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A few quick thoughts as I return to work hell

I’m going back to work, so it’ll take me a while to find a new rhythm for posting. Hopefully the lulls won’t be too long. In the meantime, here’s a few thoughts. Continue reading

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31 days of Horror

Lots of people have been posting lists of what they’ve been watching this month, but I’m getting a late start.

Unlike some of them, I started out by watching whatever… as long as it was something I hadn’t seen before (not really enjoyable if the main source is Netflix. Ouch). That all changed this weekend with access to Shudder.com.

When I first got Netflix, I watched this Irish film, Citadel, and it totally got to me. I’ve watched it a few times. The main character is sympathetic, though the ending is a bit of a let-down. Now I’ve discovered a number of intriguing Irish horror films that I will check out this week:
1 From the Dark – which appears to be a bog-vampire movie?
2 Wake Wood – grieving parents get to temporarily resurrect their daughter, and she comes back “wrong.”
3 Cherry Tree – from the same director as Wake Wood, a teenage girl makes a pact with a witch to save her father.

Yesterday I watched Exists, by the director of the Blair Witch, because all the reviews of The Woods/Blair Witch have persuaded me not to go anywhere near it. This is another found footage film that is totally dumb, but I enjoyed it.I haven’t seen any of the bigfoot movies out there, so maybe it’s just fresh territory.

I’ll also be watching some Italian (The Church, The City of the Living Dead) and Japanese horror (Tokyo Gore Police) and one I missed at TIFF, Baskin, from Turkey.
Come back in November when I provide the full list recite the horrors of trying to integrate a kitten to a house with a neurotic only cat.

Anyway, I’ll be limited to daytime watching, as my wife is very picky about horror, whereas I’m much more capable of watching things on my own (as long as it’s during the day).

It’s not always about me

Earlier this month, my wife defended her PhD. It was 8 years in the doing… with most of the thesis being completed in the last year after switching jobs and supervisors. It’s amazing what a change of scenery can do.

This was the fist time I’ve witnessed a defense – though they are often public, they aren’t usually attended. I guess most people aren’t interested in sitting quietly in a room for a few hours watching someone get grilled about something and using language they are completely unfamiliar with.  I’m lucky, because not only do I find my wife’s research interesting, but I was requested for moral support and not asked to stay away as a source of extra anxiety (seriously, my wife’s supervisor spent her defense sobbing, and someone else on the committee defended in front of their extended family).

I saw how hard she worked leading up to the date – reading criticisms of her approach, articles by her committee members, etc. after near daily writing sessions starting at 5am. As I expected, she totally kicked ass and was awarded a PhD with no revisions (kind of a big deal, but no revisions doesn’t mean literally no revisions, just no revisions in terms of thought, methodology, etc. You still have to fix typos, sometimes re-write passages or address something the committee feels wasn’t dealt with. The possibilities are no, minor, or major revisions, and failing.).

It was an interesting experience, and from what I understand pretty rare. First off, there was the form. The thesis was written as a literary biography, which has been frowned on for at least 50 years, I guess? except when writing about old white dudes (and never in a thesis). Everyone on the committee mentioned what a joy it was to read it, which makes sense, because it was written with a view of a future trade audience. While I haven’t attended defenses, I’ve read plenty of academic writing, so I get the point. Reading lots of theoretical jargon isn’t pleasurable, it’s work.

Second, the room was a private meeting room that you had to know about and know how to book. It’s hidden in the middle of nowhere behind a metal door in a large concrete building. It’s wood-paneled and would have fit nicely in Hogwarts as staged in the Harry Potter movies. As we were leaving, we noticed a full kitchen that committee members would have taken advantage of for baking during the defense! The post defense champagne was still fine, even though it was kept cool by ice packs. I’ll try to find a photo without people to share.

Third, the atmosphere was very casual and friendly. Even the external examiner known for being a hardass was smiling and joking in between questions. I watched my wife handle the questions she’d prepared for with ease; deal with questions she hadn’t prepared for – questions relating to ethics, especially because she’s the first person with access to the archives of a notably private person – just as easily and thoroughly. I heard later that the external examiner looked for reactions – apparently I was more nervous than my wife – and I was a tell for issues that I thought she might have difficulty with.

Anyway, I’m super proud of all the hard work she did to get to this point and how spectacularly she succeeded, and in the knowledge that this is more of a beginning than an end. I might have to post more when the book is closer to publication, even if makes it a little harder for me to hide who I am, but that’s not going to be any time soon.

Ghostbusters and other things to do when it’s really hot outside

Last night I went to see the new Ghostbusters movie and had a great time. Continue reading

April’s been weird

This will be quick, because I’m taking a break from editing the final draft of my wife’s PhD thesis (only 8 years in the making). Her defense is about 2 months away, so we’re focused on getting that done.
I think I’ve mentioned how I’ve had my own little weird renaissance, thanks to Scott Nicolay’s podcast (it’s hard to remember, seeing as at the time of writing this, all my previous posts exist in draft form only… the show’s on a short hiatus, so now’s the time to catch up!).

Continue reading

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