Category Archives: If the Radical Doesn’t Get to Work It’s All Over

January 27, 2015, 4:52 pm

Ending It All; Or, Why Not Retire?


Write all morning, surf all afternoon. Oh yeah.

A dear friend and collaborator has just entered a well-deserved retirement. When I wrote to congratulate her and express my senior envy, she replied: “Do the math, Radical. It’s closer than you think.” I hope so. Of course, she was always better at math than I.

I am, like many people, more ambivalent about retirement than that sounds. I love my work, but I love some aspects of it more than others; I find some activities more rewarding than others; and there are other things, that I used to love, that make me grumpy. I can never tell from year to year what those things will be. For example, here’s a big yuck for you: I think committee service has its appeals. Certainly as someone was hired as a mid-career prof by a large urban university, it had been one of the few…

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February 24, 2013, 2:42 pm

Academics: Get Thin and Sexy in Only Six Hours A Day!

tim-mcgraw-2-300There are so many things I could, should, and want to be writing about, but until I get Tim McGraw out of my head, it’s not happening.

As the People magazine cover story by Alicia Dennis (February 2 2013) points out, Tim is “Sexy and Sober at 45” (and not coincidentally on the brink of his Two Lanes of Freedom tour, which launches in Vegas on March 1.) I’m sorry I can’t hook you up to the whole article, and I am even sorrier that I cannot thieve the photograph of the bare chested, tanned and chiseled Tim, with a ripply eight pack and absolutely no fat between his abdomen and his hip bones (how do I know this? His jeans are balanced slightly north of his pubes.) Check out another pic below the fold. (more…)

August 8, 2012, 5:06 pm

The End of Summer Blues: Is It Back To School Already?

“What’s the point of trying to finish my book now!!?!”

It’s getting to be That Time of Year.

That’s right: it’s back to school and whatever isn’t done, isn’t done.  That long lovely summer you were looking forward to in May? Over. Or nearly so. Except for those of you who are still watching ribbon gymnastics and beach volleyball in preparation for your research sabbatical, summer’s ending. What to do, what to do? How to break out of that nasty transition stage where you are just shuffling paper around your desk but unable to to accomplish much — whether it’s your own work or anything remotely connected to starting school — because in a few short weeks the students will descend?

I can’t do anything about the calendar, but let’s try to cheer up with a few Radical solutions to the end of summer blues!  For …

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August 1, 2011, 12:29 pm

The New History of World War II: A Review Of Captain America

“Did you know there was anyone worse than a Nazi?” I whispered to my media-savvy teenage companion yesterday around a third of the way through Captain America. He admitted that he had not known this, but we discovered to our mutual amazement that it was so. Here’s the deal: “Cap” (as we used to call him back in the day) and his best friend Bucky enlist in World War II to fight the Nazis. They discover, however, that there is a conspiracy to dominate the world that is far worse than Fascism, and no, Michele Bachmann it isn’t Obamacare. It turns out that this evil entity is Hydra, a science conspiracy led by the cruel and indomitable Red Skull (pictured above), a villain who is determined not just to defeat the Allies, but to destroy the Nazis too! (Caution:  spoiler below the jump.)

February 5, 2011, 3:00 pm

What The Radical is Reading This Weekend: Ice-Breaker Edition

Lenin subscribes to Pravda:  so why don’t you?

It’s not that I actually have any time to read, since I am also writing, teaching, and most days, trying to figure out how to release one of our cars from snow and ice.  But:

Just in case you thought there was nothing new to say about Mad Men, here comes Daniel Mendelsohn in the most recent New York Review of Books.  In “The Mad Men Account” a seemingly needless review of the series occasioned by the upcoming release of Season 4 on DVD, Mendelsohn comes up with one key insight that is worth the price of admission.  Like Historiann, Mendelsohn is not a fan, but admits that he is drawn to the series anyway for “deeper, almost irrational reasons[.]“  He sees it as all style and no substance, and he isn’t a fan of the style.  But, as he points out, vast numbers of people love to Mad Men themselves:  look at the number of people using Mad Men

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November 28, 2009, 7:46 am

Why I Hate Reality TV: And It’s Not Just Because It Is (Oxy)Moronic

Even though close friends of the Radical know that every once in a while I lapse into an intense fascination with American Idol, I hate reality TV. Except for the classic foremother of the genre, An American Family (1973), I’ve never seen one series that even approached something “real” that was worth knowing. But until now I have never been able to say why I hate them so much beyond a deep feeling that it is simply improper to make an ever so brief living by allowing a camera crew to violate your privacy for months. I also find reality TV boring: who watches Tori and Dean for example? Women who fantasize about a life folding laundry and talking to unemployed gay men who wander in and out for no reason?

Clearly I have reasons for hating reality TV that I have not been able to articulate, and it isn’t because it’s bad TV. I watch shows like Gossip Girl, Army Wives and the…

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October 20, 2008, 12:26 pm

Go East, Old Radical: Home From the American Studies Association

I have spent much of my life going east, or going “out east”, as they used to say in southern Idaho, a place where I spent a large part of my youth. Going East is, of course, for those of us born and/or raised in the former English colonies, a consequence of having gone West in the first place. So now I am Back East (another quaint phrase from the Mountain States), in my comfortable remodeled nineteenth century clapboard house, determined to spend the day at home after having spent the weekend working for Zenith.

This is one of the few times I have attended a convention without attending either a panel or a party. For all my careful collation of the many events where the big American Studies programs host gatherings of the interdisciplinary clan, the combination of interviewing, the time change, the thin air, and a tendency of the bodily fluids to evaporate without even becoming sweat …

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August 31, 2008, 1:19 pm

You Don’t Need A Weatherman: Conservatives Respond to Sarah Palin

Do you know that Radicals read conservative publications? Well, they do — if they want to keep up, that is. I am even signed up for alerts from Human Events which, along with the National Review, I read regularly (this is the only thing, as far as I can tell, that I have in common with Dinesh D’Souza, unless he is secretly gay. Then there would be two things. Or maybe still one, since it is not a secret that I am gay.)

But D’Souza reminds me of an important point. The Republican Party, which has done its best to dismantle affirmative action and revile Democrats for trying to establish “quotas,” may have trouble with the Palin candidacy because they, and their stalking horses in the conservative intelligentsia, have gone to a great deal of trouble to convince their base that promoting the interests of women over men is ethically wrong. And there is at least the appearance that this…

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July 19, 2008, 12:57 pm

As It Turns Out, This Year’s Campaign Is Not Going To Be Revolutionary After All

One of the things that is great about being on the Zenith faculty is that my students (and I use this term broadly, since I teach relatively few of them) can always be counted on to be amusing. Well-behaved, not so much, but I don’t care about that most of the time, and don’t even really value it (as anyone who knows me or follows this blog could testify.) But amusing is essential. Among their habits is providing a helpful public service. They sift through the gunk that proliferates on the internet to come up with the funniest things — things that will lift our spirits; things to provide blog content over the weekend when we faculty should really be writing for those stuffy folks who publish words on paper. And my students provide this service at no charge whatsoever – whereas they are charged for everything they get from me through annual payments of almost $45K. I find this…

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July 3, 2008, 1:29 pm

In Every Cloud A Silver Lining

I thought today was going to be a crappy day. Not only did I not get the New York TImes for the second day this week, but instead of the Old Grey Lady I received instead a copy of that excrescence otherwise known as our corporate-owned “local” newspaper. Then my car almost got towed (as we have not yet renewed our neighborhood parking sticker) except that I ripped out to the sidewalk, partially dressed, and got it started before it was hooked up to the truck. Then the lawnmower broke, so half the lawn is sticking up at crazy angles and the other half looks like a neat little Marine.

But things are getting better. I have just been notified by Fiona King, of Online University Reviews that the Tenured Radical has been named one of the top 100 blogs written by liberal arts professors.

Since I have just been roaring around the house complaining that I can’t get to work, I’m going to make…

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