Last night, I went to this:

It was part of Selected Shorts, one of three I’m attending in the next few months. The stories were quite entertaining, and Baldwin — who apparently almost didn’t make it, thanks to filming across town — was quite good, as were all the other performers/readers.

I got home around 11 o’clock, quite tired, and allowed myself to oversleep and catch a slightly later train this morning.

I was also still weirdly shaken, almost certainly more than I should have been, by a phone call that had gone exceptionally poorly earlier in the day. I’ve been trying to set up campus visits, this time closer to home than Maryland, and it’s been tough. One instructor agreed to talk over the phone with me yesterday…and then almost immediately asked that we terminate the call. “Yeah, I think I’m going to hang up,” he said. “I really don’t want to go through all the courses I teach.” Which, you know, fair enough, especially at this busy time of year. But that’s the only reason that I called, and what I hoped I’d made clear in my original e-mail. I want to know the courses you’re teaching and the books you’re using and the challenges you and your students face. I have no hard feelings toward this particular instructor, who e-mailed after to apologize, but I’m also not at all happy about how things went. Those phone calls are awkward enough without the other party being openly antagonistic or non-communicative. I’m a pretty shy person to begin with, so I just hope for someone who’s eager to talk about the hows and whys that they teach.

I didn’t lose any sleep over it, though. (I may have mentioned, I slept in a little.)

Today, was just a lot more work. I have another phone call lined up for tomorrow, although I’m hoping that will go a little better, based on the e-mails I’ve already exchanged. And then next week…provided I don’t actually have to go on jury duty*, I’ll actually meet a few instructors in person.

I could use a weekend, though, I really could.

* Yeah, I forgot this summons was for next week. It’s a telephone standby one, which means I might not actually have to show up, but I won’t know until the night before, for about a week, starting Sunday. When I first responded to the summons, and filled out the form, I didn’t realize that now would be the single worst time ever for me to be on jury duty.

Tuesday various

The week in podcastery

I’ve been enjoying Alec Baldwin’s new podcast, Here’s the Thing, although I don’t think he rehabilitated Kris Kardashian Jenner‘s image quite as much as he seems to think in his latest offering. I have no doubt they’re genuine (if unlikely) friends, and Jenner doesn’t come across as one of the world’s most horrible people — which is probably the image her family’s reality television ubiquity most presents. But nor does she come across as particularly interesting or worthy of attention. At best, Baldwin convinced that, for all their faults, the Kardashians themselves are probably not pure evil. High praise indeed. His earlier interview Michael Douglas is a lot more interesting.

Jordan Jesse Go! took a page from Golden Girls with their 200th episode and offered up a clip show. This might be a good place to dive in if you’re new to the show, though keep in mind that the pair and their guests work a little bluer than Alec Baldwin. (Even this Alec Baldwin.) But they’re genuinely funny, and JJGo is easily one of my favorite guys-just-talking-about-stuff weekly podcasts. (Along with its Canadian counterpart, Stop Podcasting Yourself.)

Although I think I preferred Community‘s “clip show” better.

And finally, there’s Studio 360, which I genuinely enjoy, although I was deeply disappointed in host Kurt Andersen’s recent interview with Robert Levine about the Stop Online Piracy Act. I tried posting this as a comment at their site, but even logged in I ran into problems. Perhaps the post is closed to comments now that the show’s a week or two old, I don’t know. At any rate, I thought the rest of episode was quite good, but the one segment left a lot to be desired:

Let me just add my resounding disappointment with the piece. It’s not that Robert Levine (or even Studio 360) has a particular point of view on this contentious issue, much less one that’s antithetical to my own. It’s that no dissenting view is heard except in passing, to be dismissed as fear-mongering, exaggeration, and/or spurred by questionable and monetary motives.

Levine makes a reasoned argument in favor of copyright and anti-piracy legislation, but sweeps aside justifiable concerns that SOPA and its Senate counterpart are absolutely terrible tools in this regard. They will do little to protect the copyright of artists (or the corporations who ostensibly represent them) — who are already protected by a bevy of existing law such as DMCA. Rather, they will almost certainly open the doors to many of the “chilling effects” that Levine is so quick to dismiss. The language of the bill is vague and wide-sweeping and dangerous — not to pirates, but law-abiding businesses and users on the internet.

But, regardless of whether or not Levine — and Studio 360 — agrees with that argument, to present only one side of a thorny, ongoing public policy debate is, at best, an oversight and, at worst, irresponsible journalism. I expect more from Studio 360 and was therefore deeply disappointed.

Thursday various

Tuesday various

  • “The body of a Massachusetts woman went unnoticed for two days in a Fall River public swimming pool, which remained open to the public and was even visited by health inspectors, generating outrage and calls for an investigation.” More here, including how such a bizarre and awful thing could actually have happened. [via]
  • I think this song by Paris Hilton is, predictably, dreadful, but I actually prefer when Hilton does stuff like this, when she’s at least doing something. The paparazzi paying attention to a lousy pop star is marginally better than its paying attention to a do-nothing heiress, right?
  • Well I for one am shocked — shocked! — that drug trials aren’t conducted realistically in the world of superhero comics!
  • Roger Ebert on Transformers: Dark of the Moon:

    I have a quaint notion that one of the purposes of editing is to make it clear why one shot follows another, or why several shots occur in the order that they do.

  • And finally, Improv Everywhere’s latest mission is just lovely:

    I used to work right around the corner from that park. (We’re now maybe 10 minutes away.) [via]