September 30, 2003

Why didn't I think of this for grad school?

Given recent discussions about law school, passing the bar, and so forth around these parts, this item at The Smoking Gun seemed somewhat apropos. Who could imagine a résumé as creative and wacky as that getting negative feedback from law firms? I mean, I'd hire a guy who was proactive enough as to assure me of the following in his cover letter: "If a piece of evidence was accidentally dropped into the garbage, I would have no problem going to the local dump and spending days covered knee-deep in the worst foul-smelling sludge imaginable to search for the evidence." After all, what law firm wouldn't want a guy who's just serious enough to dig through trash if necessary, but not quite serious enough to file a legitimate résumé and cover letter? Is there an "eye-rolling" emoticon out there?

Meanwhile, teedz already linked to this at his weblog yesterday, but it's just too good not to pass along: ladies and gentlemen, I give you The Home Despot. That reminds me--I really should fire up Tropico again now that my days of studying for comps are behind me.

Posted by Jess at 10:39 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 29, 2003

Short Circuit 3?

Paging Dr. Robot
Doctor in robot's body tested at Johns Hopkins

I, for one, welcome our new robotic health-care-providing overlords.

Posted by Jess at 07:48 PM | Comments (14)

September 28, 2003

My favorite time of year

I got up this morning to take Milo and Dexter outside and was surprised to discover that autumn had suddenly arrived in Georgia (or at least the Georgia equivalent of autumn). Crisp air, a bit of a breeze, the smell of fallen leaves--absolutely perfect. Now, I get to spend my Sunday afternoon engaged in one of my favorite autumn rituals: watching football on television while grading essays for my class.

No, seriously.

Posted by Jess at 10:13 AM | Comments (4)

September 27, 2003


I finished my comprehensive exams yesterday! w00t! For the first time in about a month, my stomach isn't churning from stress. When it was all said and done, I ended up writing 36 typed pages for my comparative politics exam in just under seven hours--all closed-book. Of course, it will be a couple of weeks before I know if I passed or not, but I'm cautiously optimistic.

Posted by Jess at 08:35 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 23, 2003

+5 Cable Modem of Downloading

I received a message from my broadband provider, Charter Communications, earlier today via Western Union. Here's what it had to say...

Charter Communications wants to thank you for being a customer by giving you the best High Speed Internet experience yet--at no additional cost to you!

Our company has been undergoing significant technological changes as we have upgraded our broadband networks. We understand that your service level may have been affected during this time. I am happy to report that we are now ready to move full speed ahead and we want to take you along by providing the fastest Charter Pipeline service ever!

As a gesture of our appreciation for your business, we have increased the maximum download speed of your Charter Pipeline service to 2Mb/sec [from 400Kb/sec] at no additional cost to you. You don't have to do anything to get this higher speed. Simply enjoy your enhanced Charter Pipeline the next time you go online. This increase in your download speed will remain in effect until March 2004.

The change has already gone into effect, and I have to say that 2Mb/sec is a quite an improvement over 400Kb/sec (now, if only I had something huge that I really needed to download). Of course, I don't expect anyone to find this at all interesting. I'm really just posting it to tick off teedz. ;)

Posted by Jess at 07:30 PM | Comments (6)

The graduate ethic and the spirit of poverty

One comprehensive exam down (international relations), one to go (comparative politics). I spent most of today reacquainting myself with the works of Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, and Max Weber--arguably the founding fathers of modern social theory. While pondering weak and weary, over a quaint and curious volume of forgotten Weberian lore, I stumbled across the following passage:

In the United States, the academic career usually begins in quite a different manner, namely, by employment as an 'assistant'.... For it is extremely hazardous for a young scholar without funds to expose himself to the conditions of the academic career. He must be able to endure this condition for at least a number of years without knowing whether he will have the opportunity to move into a position which pays well enough for maintenance.

In the United States, where the bureaucratic system exits, the young academic man is paid from the very beginning. To be sure, his salary is modest; usually it is hardly as much as the wages of a semi-skilled laborer. Yet he begins with a seemingly secure position, for he draws a fixed salary.

That's an excerpt from a speech Weber delivered in 1918. You can say what you will about the guy, but one thing is certain: he was a keen observer of the graduate student condition.

Posted by Jess at 05:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 19, 2003

Springtime for Castro

Castro musical in the works?
Costner linked to rumored film project

I guess Hollywood is finally paying attention to what Joe Moviegoer actually wants to see. Maybe I spoke too soon when I said that Kevin Costner should stick to Westerns and movies about baseball. Then again, I guess there's plenty of room for baseball in a Castro musical.

On the other hand, when Ain't It Cool News--proud disseminator of misinformation that it usually is--actually questions the veracity of such a rumor, I guess it's wise to take it with a grain of salt.

Posted by Jess at 04:31 PM | Comments (3)

September 18, 2003

How to fix Enterprise

I've been a fan of Enterprise ever since it debuted a couple of years back, but it looks like the series has a tough road ahead. Low ratings led the producers to overhaul the series this season, giving the ship a dangerous new mission into an uncharted region of space, adding a platoon of space marines to the crew, upping the sexual tension, and giving the characters--most notably Captain Jonathan Archer and Chief Engineer Trip Tucker--a somewhat harder edge to their personalities. It's now two episodes into the new season, however, and things still just aren't quite clicking. Then, while watching last night's episode, it hit me. I know how to fix Enterprise. Captain Archer needs a catchphrase.

Just imagine an alien vessel bearing down on the Enterprise, phaser cannons firing away. Archer orders evasive maneuvers, bringing the ship around to return fire on the enemy. Now, just before he orders a full spread of photon torpedoes, he turns to the camera with a look of determination on his face and says, "When you mess with an Archer, you get the arrow. Fire, Mr. Reed!"

Boom. Instant ratings.

Posted by Jess at 07:52 AM | Comments (5)

September 16, 2003

Athens 0wn3d j00, Melos

I've spent most of the day knee-deep in Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War, and I've come to the conclusion that my general distaste for Athens extends beyond my current surroundings to encompass the Athenian Empire--or, if you prefer, Delian League--of the fifth century BC.

In related news, I really need to stop studying so much.

Posted by Jess at 03:40 PM | Comments (0)

September 15, 2003

The world is a vampire, sent to drain

Zwan Call it Quits
Corgan announces dissolution of second band in three years

Oh, well--it was fun while it lasted. I guess this means that I'll just have to step up efforts in my ongoing search for new music.

Posted by Jess at 05:52 PM | Comments (2)

Speaking of Homestar Runner...

Assuming I survive comprehensive exams, I'm considering rewarding myself with a stylish Homestar Runner t-shirt. I'm having a bit of trouble deciding which one I want, though. I'm currently torn between Trogdor Lite (with Majesty), the Homestar Classic, Homestar Running, and the Star Shirt. In classic weblog style, I implore you to help me make a decision on the day-to-day minutiae of my life.

Posted by Jess at 05:07 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

I think it's hella tight... and you guys need boyfriends.

The latest installment of the always-funny Teen Girl Squad is up at Homestar Runner. Let's get ready to look SO GOOD!

Meanwhile, since this is a blog and blogs apparently require the occasional link to a personality quiz (I believe it's in the End User License Agreement for the software), here's the "Which member of Teen Girl Squad are you?" quiz. Apparently, I'm "So and So." Or something.

Posted by Jess at 07:09 AM | Comments (0)

September 13, 2003

Science is what you know. Philosophy is what you don't know.

It's now less than a week until my comprehensive exams begin. A couple of days ago, my committee chair told me that I should try to enjoy these next couple of weeks as much as possible since I will never know as much about such a wide range of topics in the field again at any other time in my career. I still haven't decided whether that prospect falls into the category of encouraging or disheartening.

Oh, and big ups to Bertrand Russell for the quotation in the subject line.

Posted by Jess at 05:16 PM | Comments (0)

September 11, 2003

More silly pop culture stuff

The full theatrical trailer for Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill has finally hit the Web, and I'd say that it improves on the earlier teaser in just about every way imaginable. Jackie Brown didn't quite "click" with me, but this one seems to be shaping up rather nicely.

Meanwhile, various sources confirm that Christian Bale is the new Batman. I'm not familiar with his work, but I'm looking forward to the prospect of what sounds like a "Year One" approach to the Batman mythos featuring a villain that hasn't been done to death already.

Posted by Jess at 05:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Throw me the idol, I throw you the whip

B-Movie Feel For Indy IV
Adventure sequel opts for retro look

Well, that's at least one fear I had about Indiana Jones 4 put to rest. Please, O Great and Powerful Gods of Responsible Film-Making, don't let this project head down the same road as the recent revival of that other Lucasfilm property.

Posted by Jess at 07:26 AM | Comments (0)

September 10, 2003

Does this mean that I have to stop making fun of Jewel?

Corgan Gets Poetic
Zwan frontman shopping collection of verse

Posted by Jess at 07:17 PM | Comments (0)

September 09, 2003

High and dry

Last night's post about the new BNL single got me thinking about how dissatisfied I am with my music collection these days. I'm at that all-too-familiar point where I'm bored with most of the CDs I already have, but there's just not any music out there that I'm particularly interested in checking out. If memory serves, I've only purchased two albums this year: Zwan's Mary Star of the Sea and the White Stripes' Elephant. Maybe it's time to finally give in to the hype and give Coldplay a try. After all, I really liked Radiohead back when they still made music, and Coldplay seems to be picking up where they left off.

Posted by Jess at 06:36 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

September 08, 2003

Maybe someone else should drive

I just heard the Barenaked Ladies' new single, "Another Postcard." Much to my continuing dismay, it appears that BNL isn't particularly intent on shaking their growing reputation as a novelty act. Here's an excerpt from the lyrics:

Some chimps in swimsuits, some chimps are swinging from a vine
Some chimps in jackboots, some chimps that wish they could be mine.
Starsky and Hutch chimps, a chimp who's sitting on the can
A pair of Dutch chimps who send their love from Amsterdam.
Another postcard with chimpanzees
And every one is addressed to me.

Now, imagine that first bit being rapped in a style not entirely dissimilar to Snow of mid-1990s "Informer" fame.


I love BNL; I really do. It's getting to the point, though, that I'm almost ashamed to admit it. I'll still go on record saying that BNL is far and away one of the best acts that I've ever had the pleasure of seeing live. With the exception of a small handful of songs, however, I can't say that I've particularly enjoyed their two most recent studio releases. I realize, of course, that I'm in a minority in that regard. After all, Stunt and Maroon catapulted BNL into the mainstream for the first time (at least in the United States) and won the band legions of new fans. I just wish that they'd make a return to the more mature songwriting of Maybe You Should Drive and Born on a Pirate Ship. Sure, BNL is a decent enough band when it comes to "geek rock" or "frat rock" or whatever they're calling it this week, but I'm positive that the band is capable of being much more than that--without sacrificing their mainstream success in the process.

Oh, who am I kidding? I'll be at Best Buy to pick up Everything to Everyone when it hits stores on October 21, hoping that the first single isn't reflective of the album as a whole. I don't have particularly high hopes, though. Chimps in jackboots? Sigh.

Posted by Jess at 10:00 PM | Comments (7)

Is it an evil petting zoo?

An excerpt from the current lead story at

"The American forces describe this area, less than five miles (7 kilometers) from the Pakistan border, as the most evil place in Afghanistan--the scene where they've suffered the most casualties."

The pull quote that's currently up on CNN's main page is even better, describing a "real cat-and-mouse game" in "an area described as the most evil in Afghanistan."

Maybe I've just read a little too much postmodernist work on the discursive power of language, but I've been uncomfortable with the phrase "Axis of Evil" ever since I first heard President Bush utter it. But, honestly--evil geography? Casualties or not, that's a bit of a stretch.

Posted by Jess at 06:54 PM | Comments (0)

September 07, 2003

Metahumor and the twenty-fourth-and-a-half century

Spike TV's Joe Schmo is so cruel. And hilarious. In related news, I want a pimped-out Lord of the Manor Immunity Robe.

Meanwhile, the new Duck Dodgers series on the Cartoon Network is much better--and, dare I say, edgier--than I ever would have expected. Then again, I've always enjoyed my sci-fi with a dash of comedy.

Posted by Jess at 09:48 PM | Comments (0)

September 05, 2003

$240 worth of pudding

This is quite possibly the greatest and best site in the world. I recommend starting with clips like "The Barry Lutz Show" and "Eating Muppets" and then systematically working your way through the remaining segments. While I miss The State on MTV, Comedy Central's hilarious Reno 911! is definitely helping to ease the pain.

Posted by Jess at 07:39 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 03, 2003

Fast-food reflections

Has anyone else seen and/or heard the series of advertisements that have been running in recent months promoting the, ahem, exciting new menu at Hardee's? To make a long story short, the overarching theme of these ads is as follows: "We know that we used to suck, but we promise that our food isn't nearly as bad as it used to be. Honest. Please come and eat here." Here's a summary of one of the spots from

"The spot shows an 18-year-old ex-customer who recalls, with pained facial expressions, his total disgust over his last Hardee's meal. 'The whole place just smells like fried chicken,' he says, 'like chicken, frying chicken. So I bite into the burger and, dude, it was just weird. I'm eating the burger and smelling the chicken.'"

The ad then flashes to a picture of Hardee's new, ridiculously-named Thickburger, reassuring would-be customers with the slogan, "Introducing Thickburger and no fried chicken. Instead of trying to make a lot of things good, we're going to make one thing great." Other ads promise that the Thickburger represents "how the last place you'd go for a burger will become the first." Best of all, most of the ads also explicitly point out the fact that Thickburgers are significantly more expensive than competing fast-food burgers, but assure customers that it's worth the price.

Let me get this straight. You've just reminded me why I wasn't eating at Hardee's--the "last place" I'd go for a burger--and now you want me to pay a premium price to give you a second (or third) chance? Yeah, I'll get right on that.

Meanwhile, Arby's has given up on such previous advertising campaigns as assuring customers that "Arby's is different," urging you to "give in to your grown-up taste," and offering "a taste of the Southwest." Nowadays, they're depending on a anthropomorphic CG oven mitt named (wait for it...) Oven Mitt to bring people in to try one of their seemingly endless variations on slapping roast beef onto a bun. Now, obviously a talking oven mitt is going to sell sandwiches; that much is a given. What I don't understand, however, is the almost tangible sense of hostility that Oven Mitt's co-workers hold toward him for some unknown reason in the commercials. For instance, in one spot they mercilessly taunt Oven Mitt for lacking a nose and ears. Come on, guys--he's an oven mitt! Isn't the fact that he's able to hold down a job in the fast-food industry enough to placate you? In another spot, the co-workers angrily accuse poor Oven Mitt of being a suck-up just because he compliments the manager on having a good idea during a staff meeting. Although the scenarios change from ad to ad, one thing remains constant throughout the campaign: these people think of Oven Mitt as a second-class citizen/glove that's not worthy of their time and respect. Then again, when you consider that Tom Arnold provides the voice of Oven Mitt, I suppose that the pieces begin to fall into place.

At the moment, however, my favorite fast-food slogan is for Checker's--a chain of less-than-stellar drive-through burger joints here in the South. Their awe-inspiring slogan? "You gotta eat." Yep, that's the most compelling reason the ad wizards at Checkers can devise for dining at their fine establishment. You have a biological need to consume food; if you don't, you'll die. Given those facts, you might as well address this biological need at Checker's--especially if there's one nearby and you have some form of legal tender in your pocket. Please note that they never claimed that their food was good. But, it will stave off death--at least in the short term. In the long term, of course, the calories, fat content, and cholesterol will all do their part to help you shuffle off this moral coil. But, I guess fast-food is all about the here and now anyway, eh?

Posted by Jess at 06:11 PM | Comments (5)

September 02, 2003

Two weeks from Friday

Today was the official Go-Around-And-Get-Pep-Talks-From-My-Committee Day in the comprehensive exams preparation process. Between that, a full day's worth of quality studying, and a good old-fashioned two-mile walk around the neighborhood, the overall freak-out factor is actually on the decline for the first time in a few weeks.

Posted by Jess at 09:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 01, 2003

Strap on your six-guns

I caught a showing of Open Range yesterday afternoon, and I have to say that it was a great old-fashioned Western--due in no small part to a topnotch performance from Robert Duvall. I think Rotten Tomatoes put it best when they described the film as "a simple tale, well told." Say what you want about Kevin Costner, but he can still get the job done--as long as it's a Western or a baseball movie.

Posted by Jess at 10:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack