6 Things ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. The World’ Taught Me About Dating

One of my favorite movies and one of the things I have very little actual experience with so totally a no brainer to share.

Thought Catalog

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The WorldScott Pilgrim Vs. The World

I was going to open this by warning of spoilers, but honestly, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World came out nearly four years ago and if you haven’t seen it by now, I don’t even know what you are or why you live your life the way you do. This movie is one of my all-time favorites. The story is badass. The cast is perfect. The soundtrack is all that matters in life.

In case you’ve been living under some weird, boring rock that doesn’t let you watch fun movies, here’s the gist of the story: Scott Pilgrim, played by Michael Cera, meets Ramona Flowers, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and is instantly obsessed. From the beginning, he is ready to do anything it takes to spend time with her and get to know her, but Scott’s intentions and determination are tested when he finds out…

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Gamer Gate and ‘The Promise of Happiness’

An interesting look at the concept of happiness. Gamergate is a lot bout keeping that script but it’s actually messed up. As a feminist myself, this is an interesting read that I recommend for your perusal.

Like Fish.

femkill Sara Ahmed is the professor of Race and Cultural Studies at Goldsmith’s College at the University of London. I was given her 2010 book, “The Promise of Happiness,” as a gift, with the caveat that I was, in fact, a “feminist killjoy.”

Ahmed offers an analysis of how happiness is invented for people before they have a say in it, how that happiness comes to define us, and why we shouldn’t let it. We sense an obligation toward our own happiness, a duty, Ahmed notes, outlined before we ever have a say. Examples abound: Parents who warn their gay teenagers, “I just want you to be happy” as a warning that homosexuality will deprive them of that parent’s vision of future happiness. Or calls for minorities to stop finding things to complain about, to “think positively,” an encouragement to perpetuate the happiness of those with the privilege to enjoy it. Or…

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Episode 155: New Joker for New Times

If you’ve taken even the smallest glance through my blog you have already seen that I write a lot about Batman. He is one of my favorite heroes for many of the reasons that others love him. He is an ordinary human being who is extraordinary at just about every aspect aspect of life. But for me, what makes the Dark Knight so compelling as a character is that for all intents and purposes he should check himself into Arkham Asylum right after delivering another escaped rogue to its halls of potential but never actual mental rehabilitation. Batman is compulsive to a degree that he must have a contingency for every plan, even the ones that should never take place within a person’s neurons. He has prepared himself in case the people he most trusts betray him. And if he ever decides not to, the sense of a lack of preparation eats him alive. This is what keeps Bruce from making meaningful relationships with those around him. His insanity compels him to be the hero even for scenarios that only exist in his imagination. Batman’s mental instability is one of the untold but ever present elements presented in the comics and movies where he exists and no character brings that craziness to the surface like The Joker.

So when I see that the newest incarnation of Gotham’s paranoid prankster is going to look like this

Well I’m still not entirely sure what to think of it. Fun fact: You see the card tattoo on his shoulder? A four of a kind is a fairly invincible poker hand, especially with all Aces. But in games where jokers are playable cards, this is the ultimate five of a kind because jokers are always wild. If the Suicide Squad is indeed the ultimate group of aces meant to work together plus a joker, well that’s a winning hand n matter what. And that’s what Suicide Squad aka Task Force X is all about. Take some criminals and send them to do an impossible mission. They do it or die in the process with no one to trace them back to the government that sent them. So, win-win except for the squad.

Now, back to the Joker and the new look. If you see this man down the street you would assume that your life is in danger. Green hair is always iconic, no eyebrows is an interesting touch. But the tattoos are an interesting choice that make it so that this isn’t the Joker of old. For a quick snapshot of how the Internet reacted and some interesting photoshops check here. As an academic who studies pop culture and Batman I think I need to add my voice to the conversation as well.

Jared Leto’s portrayal of the character is going in a very interesting direction. This is a physical transformation like no other, especially when considering that Cesar Romero who played the Joker in Adam West camptastic version of Batman never shaved his mustache and just had it painted over white. We have had several photos leading to this one of Leto in full Joker attire only to not see him in any attire at all (please be wearing pants) [I imagine some of my readers would rather imagine him sans pants but that is neither here nor there]. We haven’t seen his mannerisms or even heard the laugh yet and yet the picture seems to scream insane beyond the accepted levels of supervillainy from comic books. The body art has a lot of the standard joker imagery. The smile on the forearm, the skull with the jester hat, the above mentioned cards, and hahahahaha all over. Plus you can see that there is more around the bellybutton area and probably around his back. I swear if he has a tramp stamp of Deadpool the Internet would explode. It’s a bit much for a character who is recognizable only for his face, especially once you see the facial tattoos. “Damaged” on the forehead is not exactly subtle. And teardrop that looks like a “J” is just strange to say the least. And the grill, (that thing on his teeth) is just wow. Unless he has an optimized bite attack D&D build, adamantium teeth are never a good idea.

Nevertheless, the insanity is clear. Here’s the problem, Joker isn’t the antagonist of Batman v Superman. He is one of the main characters of Suicide Squad. As a foil and an enemy to the caped crusader, the chaos contrasts with the methodical compulsiveness and you get an interesting duel of ideologies. But, as part of an ensemble of antiheroes at best characters Joker becomes comic relief.

I see Leto and I think manic-depressive, someone who flip flops between a sugar rush of laughter to someone trying to find humor in the macabre to have life mean something again. And that is ultimately Joker’s most important and defining trait. It needs to be funny. If he kills someone it has to be done in comedic fashion, even if he is the only one laughing. However, it feels like this Joker is redefined as the humor of a new generation that no one gets and the deadly artistry just comes off as more annoying than threatening. Maybe it’s my age starting to come out of the intended bracket of the demographic they are aiming for. Perhaps it is because if this is indeed being pitched as a darker grittier version of Guardians of the Galaxy. However, here’s the scary part:

A while ago it was reported that DC has a no joke policy now in their current filmography. Suicide Squad might be the exception and if that’s the case Leto’s Joker might steal the spotlight from the rest of the cast. But if they are making a no laughs at all film with all of these characters then I have no idea how this movie is going to be interesting. Within the the grander continuity of the DC current filmography, the only super in the world is Superman. That means there are no super villains.

My love of Batman stems from the fact that he is only human but surpasses all expectations of humanity. Suicide Squad has a chance to the extraordinary parts of humanity with a morality that ranges from the questionable to the deplorable. Leto’s Joker could mesh super well with Task Force X or he could stick out like a sore pasty tattooed thumb that makes the film flop. Time will tell but I want to see first hand how these characters are interpreted and what the trailers and eventually the movie will show us. Let’s see.

Episode 154: The Three Phases of Textual Fluidity

This is something that I have been using recently in some dissertation chapters and a journal article I just sent out that I think needs to be teased out just a bit more. If you have been reading my earlier academia related posts you’ll notice that one of the main critical theories that I use is Textual Criticism. Simply put, this particular method of analysis focuses on seeing the process of authorship as it goes from idea, to manuscript, and finally to publication. There’s a few critics who I use to define some of the more nuanced aspects. George Thomas Tanselle is one of the big kahunas in the field (if this critical theory interests you then I recommend you check out his Brief Rationale of Textual Criticism, a fairly short book with big ideas). Next up is Peter Shillingsburg from whom I amend the concept of the different performances that go into publishing and make the umbrella term of “authorial performances”. And finally, John Bryant who coins the term “textual fluidity”, a metaphor I am about to take to its logical extreme.

Let me start by saying that textual criticism was not designed with serialization in mind. Odds are, my adaptation of its tenets to deal with work being published over for which the publication process is fairly drawn out may make me the hero/enemy of the field if they ever see any of academic writing. Tanselle in particular has some interesting ideas that serve as the basis/launchpad for my discussion. He states that publication takes place in three stages: the work, the text, the document. The work is almost abstract and something that only the author has access to (think the realm of ideas). The text is what the author publishes but only through documents which is what readers actually get. Think of it this way, JK Rowling (who is one of my main examples of authorship in print) took a lot of notes and such as she was figuring out how to write the work of Harry Potter. She later got a manuscript accepted and edited a million times over before it became published. That first book was part of the text but we as readers got documents (individual copies of the book) that contained the text. If you underline a passage or something you alter the document not, the text itself. Only JK Rowling can affect the text pre and post publication. Now, within serialization we have that the seven books make up the entirety of the work. Technically, the spin offs are additions to the work but not to the actual narrative but that’s something for another post. In serialization, authors have to divide the work into different installments. The text thus becomes an aggregate as more parts are added to it and it grows but the individual parts of the story are contained within distinct and different documents. So, the work (when properly planned out like in the case of Wizard Supreme Rowling) should be pretty much the same size, the text will start small and grow through subsequent publication into the size of the work, and the documents will remain the same size through out. Except for omnibus editions and other collections but again, something for another time.

Now, here’s where the metaphor part gets interesting. Textual fluidity exists because the ideas are free flowing once the work starts to become concrete. Editors and friends chime in with ideas, notes are written and discarded, maybe even go through some different editions after publication happened. In this way, the text is changing in many ways, thus it becomes fluid and dynamic. If the text is like water, then it’s other forms may exist much like the phases of waters. The work is steam, almost ephemeral and unperceivable by the reader as the author contains it. The text is water, free flowing and changing as it goes through different channels; visible but not something once can see clearly defined. The document is ice, an encapsulated form of the text that is tangible to the senses.

Let’s go over the phases once again:

gaseous work

fluid text

frozen document

I think I’ve successfully married Tanselle’s and Bryant’s concepts but there is still one more step I wan to take. Another critical theory I engage is comparative media studies. Basically, it’s how the medium of publication alters the text. Now, let’s get back to the previous water metaphor. When water freezes it takes the shape of its previous container. In nature you get a lot of craziness (which is why snowflakes are so unique) but in your home, odds are you have ice cubes, ie cubes of ice, because there is a tray specifically designed to hold water in such a way which then fits easily in your next drink. However, there are a ton of novelty apparatuses that can make that same water into different shapes, like this one that makes Death Star ice that you didn’t know you wanted until know. So, medium of publication gives shape to the document as it freezes. Knowing that a particular medium has this kind of output weighs heavily on narrative production as the text becomes complete.

This is why, I’m studying authorship of serial fiction in different media, eg print, comics, and webcomics. The process of publication, and thus the form of the document, is different in each one so the way the text is perceived is heavily influenced by medium. Changing the document without altering the text accordingly can lead to some odd narrative outputs but again, that is something to be discussed later on.

Episode 153: Diving into Daredevil

The Marvel Cinematic has a new addition to its continuity this weekend with the premiere of Daredevil on Netflix. I have seen all but the last episode of the 13 of the first (of hopefully many) season in order to make sure that I don’t give away anything too big in this review of sorts. Chances are that if you are reading this then you have already made up your mind to see it but just case you’re still wondering then let me try to make a diplomacy check to convince you of its awesomeness. Let me preface this by stating that I am weirdly optimistic of a lot of things on tv and do not apologize for being a fanboy of comics and all things that Marvel has been throwing out there since Iron Man 1. Rather than a synopsis or episode guide, I’m going to explain some of the cooler themes and avoid the plot as much as possible. The story is superb in several ways and is best enjoyed with little expectation. But before that, let me give you a glimpse of the past. Here’s the Honest Trailer for Daredevil from over a decade ago. Actually, let me help you forget about it. Cool drinking game idea when watching the show: Take a shot/sip/drink of whatever you want whenever you audibly hear the sounds of bones breaking. With that out of the way let’s start exploring some themes. Daredevil Powers: The show does an amazing job of downplaying and exaggerating Matt Murdock’s supersensorial perception. This isn’t the earthbending tremorsense that Toph exhibits or the weird echolocation sense that the Affleck version of the character has. The portrayal of this power simultaneously blends the believable and the extraordinary as you wonder if all blind people could hear your heartbeat from across the room or smell cologne through CONCRETE walls. Even the more fantastic elements like body armor clothing, having a hint of a healing factor, and the other hardcore characters present are presented in a way that (at least for me) didn’t even give evoke a shrug of huh?!. It’s very Arrowesque in that way but in still done in a way that doesn’t shy away from comics. The Continuity We see first hand that the story is part of the greater Marvel continuity and MCU. The locale of Hell’s Kitchen is part of New York City so we see the effects of the first Avengers movie still shaping how we see the world. No real clue if the series takes place after Captain America Winter Soldier but references galore exist. Still, if you haven’t seen the films you will not be confused at all. The show itself needs to be seen in order for obvious reasons. Episodes feed off each other in true serial fashion. I recommend giving yourself a break of a few minutes in between every two episodes just to absorb everything and really let the story sink in. If you have the patience, give yourself a few hours to do other stuff every 4 episodes or so to emotionally settle the details, try to see where the story is going, and then seeing your conclusions come to fruition/abandonment. Then again I recommend that for every bingeable show so take that with a grain of salt. The Heroes  This isn’t Daredevil, this is a guy in a black mask beating people up. We see a character coming into his element as a hero. In a world where everyone knows about Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, and Thor, “The Man Without Fear” is a down to earth force of good who is just trying to save his city. Again, a lot like Arrow but the suit is pretty much home made and without any weapons of note (at least for the first half). However, Matt Murdock is no celebrity billionaire philanthropist. In the microcosm of Hell’s kitchen he has a history as a person and growing street cred but he is very much a small shark in a big ocean of predators. It is very much a coming of age story for Murdock as the Hero’s Journey is traversed where we see mistakes and what we learn from them. The rest of the ensemble is well fleshed out, each one with their own motivations and goals that at times converge and other times conflict with the titular hero’s progress. Also, a guy that you think looks like Billy Bob Thorton shows up and he is BADASS. You have been warned. The Villains The antagonists are also quite entertaining. The Legion of Doom consortium that exists between all the bad guys in play is impressive and goes to show the power of organized crime. The multinational crew is a bit on the stereotypical side, almost to the point that you could expect a similar ensemble appearing in a Grand Theft Auto Game. Still, each one of them has their own particular story arcs as Daredevil realizes just how over his head he really is when trying to clean up the streets. Of particular note comes once the show starts delving into Wilson Fisk. This is just a much a story of Murdock becoming Daredevil as it is about Fisk becoming the eventual Kingpin of New York. There are a lot of parallels in their lives, very reminiscent of Aang and Zuko’s struggles in Avatar the Last Airbender, so much so that their flashbacks have similar distinguishing moments: their father’s involvement with the mafia, the first time they took a drink, a semi mysterious past that must remain hidden, and currently the urge to save the city from itself. What makes Fisk such a complicated character is that he isn’t anything like the portrayal done by Michael Clarke Duncan in the film. Or as you might better remember him, as one of the main antagonists in the 1990s Spiderman cartoon. You can see his boisterous classic supervillainesque hubris here and yes, you even see him beat up Daredevil from that cool crossover episode. The Fisk in this version is still physically imposing but not a hulking behemoth in any sense of the word. There are a lot of other things in which he is the foil to his animated counterpart but I will let you see those firsthand. The Fights Holy crap the battles in the show are incredible!!! There’s none of the Matrix style CGI or overly showoff moves. What you get is a nice mix of MMA and kung fu, to the point that Murdock throws as many Superman punches as he does a cool flippy kick. Still, it’s done in a way that shows that even the most basic of mooks can be a threat to Daredevil under the right circumstances. And the people with real combat training make for exciting one on one brawls that make you think our hero might not make it one piece. The violence is a bit brutal with some splices of gore but some of the worst aspects are still not shown. All in all, the show is basically PG 13, no f bombs or nudity here, people. The easiest way to explain is by showing you this spectacular fight scene that comes from the second episode. It has a very similar vibe to the hallway fight in Oldboy (original Korean version) in that it is both out of this world but somehow still believable and it’s all done in one glorious take. In Conclusion If you wanted to see a dark and gritty version of a Marvel superhero that blurs the line between human, mutate, and superhero this is the way to go. The episodes often start in medias res of the bigger conflict at hand, which is sometimes confusing but having faith in the program that it will make sense really pays off at the end. The visuals are done with little light in such a way that you see the world almost through Murdock’s perspective of overall darkness. Aspects of light and shadow, good and evil, and other dichotomies of ethics and morality are explored as we are given the lines that separate humanity from monsters blur. It is a struggle against one’s adversaries as much as it as an internal turmoil to discern who one really is when exposed to the truth that everyone wants to keep secret.

Edit/Addendum Once the initial adrenaline from seeing the show I was able to take a bit more of a nuanced look at some aspects and have arrived at some objective points worth mentioning. This show is not for everyone. If you are feeling bad about your law career this series will make you question your life decisions even more so. Several moments feel like a cross between a grim episode of Law and Order and what everyone wanted Gotham to be before they realized that Batman would be 12. The violence is off putting and the squick factor at times borders on the extreme; you will never look at a bowling ball or car door the same way again. I often glorify fight scenes because of their choreography but several moments border on the X-ray attack montages in the most recent Mortal Kombat games. There is a line between wanting to cheer and wanting to look away that zig zags throughout the course of Daredevil and the shifting tones for me show the gritty reality of Hell’s Kitchen (thus adding layers of meaning to watching) but I’m sure other people would easily be off put by the need for five characters at minimum to need urgent medical treatment on average per episode. My biggest concern is that Daredevil will create an ideological shift the same way that 24 did. The latter was also an amazing program that revolutionized storytelling in various facets but ultimately it helped ease the way for a cultural shift towards something more. At best, it helped people see that a black president wouldn’t be the end of the world but at worst it did make so that torture as an interrogation tactic would be commonplace and foolproof. I fear that people will see The Man Without Fear’s adventures and believe that vigilante justice is the way to go. If this were a show about The Punisher who kills pretty much every bad guy he comes across then I would be twice as afraid but luckily the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen follows the no kill rule (even if no one else does). All in all, the series most powerful aspects are also what would drive away many possible viewers. It is a dark view of the world of Marvel. Our hero does not have Tony Stark’s humor, Steve Rodger’s patriotism, Thor’s charm, or Hulk’s almost comical levels of super strength. This is Matt Murdock, a guy who wants to make his neighborhood a better place. Be it through his intelligence as a lawyer or his acrobatic throat punching as a hero trying to find his place, Daredevil’s grit and ability to see a reality made invisible by our sight is what make this character unique in a world where the fantastic is now commonplace. So if you want to see the dark underbelly of what it takes for a man to be a hero then give Daredevil a chance. Also, Foggy (Matt’s best friend and fellow lawyer) is played the guy who was the kid who had the super slapshot power’s in Mighty Ducks so that’s something.

Episode 152: Tips and Tricks to Attend, Present, and Survive an Academic Conference

The 40 day writing challenge was a bit of a bust on my end but during that time I got to send a diss chapter, ran a conference, presented at another one, and revised journal article so busy times. Oh and I wrote that fanfiction thing which hasn’t [YET] been seen by Marvel or DC, you can read it here if you want. However, I need to get back into writing so that more dissertation progress can happen and the dream to defend by Christmas 2015 becomes a reality. But before heading straight into academia maybe some meta academics will be a better starting point. So might as well talk about one of more interesting points about academia: The Conferences. Conferences are a magical place where smart people come to talk about their research while  asking questions to other people that are actually comments on not the original topic. I’ve been going to them over the last six years and have seen some crazy things along the way. I’ve even had the honor of helping to run a few and even got to chair that one which spammed so much of this blog and slightly polymorphed it into the conference website. So here I present a few tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way and will even include some of my own anecdotes and misadventures in the subject. If you prefer reading the abridged version then it’s the perfect time to plug my twitter @Ranzunar and you can look for #ConfLifeHacks As a presenter: Odds are that you are going to a conference because your abstract got chosen as cool enough to be a part of the proceedings. You have scoured through different places that have something to do with your research interests and you found the right one. But with so many conferences at the same time happening all over let me give some free advertising to my good friends over at the CFP list http://www.cfplist.com/ which has deadlines and maps to help you choose. Here are some points of advice of the bullet variety from abstracts to the end of the conference.

  • If you get an email from conference organizers about your abstract and it asks for edits, please edit it. We want your abstract but want to remove reasons as to why it might not fit criteria.
  • If you have not received any emails from the conference and the submission deadline has passed there’s a good chance they didn’t get your submission. Confirmation emails are standard so not getting one is cause for concern.
  • Remember your abstract and write paper accordingly. People are expecting a paper based on the preview. Changes are standard practice but keep it within expectations.
  • Actually write the paper, preferably way before the conference. I have literally written the ending to a paper at the panel as the person before me was presenting. This is bad etiquette and chances are you can’t pull it off. Best not to take that risk.
  • Practice your presentation. Read it out loud, check the timing of things, and make sure that ideas make sense. Don’t just read the whole thing (or read straight from the power point) so please include eye contact moments.
  • Check about funding from your university about the same time your abstract is accepted. Stay on top of all the paperwork.
  • Stick to your time limit. Plan to go under the time limit because jokes and spontaneous comments happen.
  • Be overly paranoid about having your presentation with you. Email it to yourself, get it on a flash drive or two, print it out, set up a cloud thingy, and anything else to avoid being empty handed for presentation time.
  • Coordinate with the other presenters in your panel. You are probably grouped together by topic so avoid overlap. No need for all of you to give a brief historical context intro.
  • Add visuals. Even if your paper is pretty solid, a few images and key statements really help the audience stay engaged.
  • Get to the conference itself early. See where the room is, scout for nearby bathrooms, and know where to get pre/post presenting caffeine and food. Also be at your panel way before it starts, preferably by the one before it is ending.
  • Be prepared to have to do a low tech version of the presentation Laptops shut down and projectors spontaneously combust (kidding! or am I?) have an Amish tech level plan ready.
  • Don’t be afraid to bring energy to your presentation. Lots of people play it safe. I’ve been part of many panels were my thing was not nearly as informative as the others but damn if it wasn’t the most entertaining.
  • People might actually ask for a copy of your paper so try to actually write one out even if you’re going full powerpoint on it. With any luck someone might quote you later on and that is a pretty cool achievement as an academic.
  • Chances are you are going to get a question that is only vaguely related to your presentation. The safe bet for any of these situations is to say: “Thanks for your question. I honestly had not thought about it that way before. I’d have to do some extra research on that area. If you can send me a link or two later on I’d appreciate it. Next question.”
  • Be sure to compliment the other presenters afterwards, even if you were clearly the MVP of the panel. Confident academics are cool but cocky ones are just groan inducing.
  • Save all the receipts and plane ticket stubs. Any money you can get back will need a paper trail.
  • Bonus general tip: Vary your presentation titles and topics. Someone will look at your CV and unless you are selling yourself as THE premiere academic on Batman, you shouldn’t have 70% of your presentations have the Dark Knight present.

After presenting comes the magical time when you become an attendee at the conference. You’ve got a day or two before it’s time to get back home so make the best of your time abroad. Here are some tips to enjoy the trip.

  • Make sure you know how to get to the conference. I once mixed up the directions and severely undervalued the transportation needed to get from the Vancouver Airport to the University of Victoria. Thought it was one 20 minute  bus ride away. Turns out it was bus, ferry, and then two buses to get there like six hours later. Google map your way to and from your destination.
  • Walking distance is very relative. Safest bet is to stay at the hotel of the conference or the nearest place to the conference as possible. If you have friends nearby cool but be prepared to search through AIRBNB if you want to save money/the good places are already filled up because you took too long to get a reservation.
  • Reservations are free so get one for the whole time of the conference once you think you are certainly going. You can adjust as need be once you get more specifics but do it at a time limit of about a week before your stay.
  • Try and make a group friends/colleagues to come to the conference as well. Split some bills and avoid crippling solitude. Plus that way you have guaranteed attendance to your panel.
  • If you are going it alone, lots of conferences have forums and such to find a roommate to share a hotel room with. It’s a gamble but you can make some nice friends and/or enemies. Oh and bring ear plugs. 0 space + not offending snorers= good night sleep for all.
  • You can theoretically survive off tap water, pop tarts, and protein bars to gain nutrients through your stay and avoid hefty restaurant prices. I have done this and do not recommend it at all.
  • However, breakfast things can be done in your hotel room no problem. Coffee makers give you boiled water, great for instant oatmeal. Irons can make boring cheap bread into delicious toast.
  • Fancy hotel gyms sometimes have free gatorade and fruit. Get a bit of a workout and some nutrients. Don’t go overboard, nothing worse than a sprain in a far away land.
  • Be prepared to walk, a lot! If you have ankle wraps bring them. They take as much space as a tie and you can help you or a friend avoid a lot of pain.
  • Mark the pages of the program of panels you want to see. Simple way to keep track of things and induce flashbacks later on.
  • Iron your clothes the day you get there. Morning prep time is limited and early panels mean you should be out the door quickly. Also, iron for clothes before you use it to make toast/grilled cheeses. The less crumbs the better.
  • Go to at least one panel outside of your academic niche. Always nice to get a broader experience.
  • If the audience is a little shy/quiet try to make the effort to ask a question at the panel. And make it an actual question, not some weird comment where you make yourself look smart. Especially inquire something from the boring presenter, it will really make their day.
  • Take a moment to enjoy the sites and see the town. Avoid chain restaurants and get some of the local cuisine. If you’re anything like me then you measure awesomeness of travels by the uniqueness of the food.
  • Don’t be afraid to socialize and make friends. Bonus points if you have business cards at the ready.
  • Don’t overpack! Whatever you bring comes back with you so how are you going to bring that and souvenirs? And books! Trust me, you always end up buying books so save some space.
  • If you have the time, go see the keynote speech. A lot of the conference budget is allocated for this person so go see him/her in action.
  • Always bring cash. 90% of places accept credit/debit and/or have nearby ATMs but things happen so avoid the trouble and carry some extra actual money with you.
  • Make sure to thank the conference chair and other organizers. It’s a tough job with little payout so knowing the conference went well is a fresh of breath air and is greatly appreciated.
  • For long layovers, I recommend having a game with you, preferably something you can play offline because no one has the money to spend money for premium WiFi. I brought Cards Against Humanity for a recent conference and befriended some teenagers near my terminal to play a few rounds with me. Okay, maybe not the best example.

Beyond anything else, conferences should never feel like a shore or homework. Enjoy yourself and treat it as a mini-vacation. Have fun while learning because as an academic that’s what we are all supposed to do.

PCA 2015 Recap

Cool scholar I had the pleasure of meeting during my time at the Pop Culture Conference in New Orleans recently. Still considering making my own summary of sorts but @MythicRamblings does a good job and you should check her out. Also, she said my presentation was cool and I’m a sucker for anything that yields to positive future google searches of me.

mythicramblings

Last time, on Mythic Ramblings…

You’ll thank me someday. Probably Friday.

No vaccines for you, sweet child.

What sort of fairy tale ending is – oh.

I was more disappointed than anything.

This time, on Mythic Ramblings, I’ll be talking about some great presentations I saw at the 2015 National Popular Culture Association Conference in New Orleans. Some of them were awesome, others piqued my interest, but all of them definitely happened. 

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