In my position as a faculty tech consultant for our College’s Center for Teaching and Learning, I write an occasional email for colleagues on technology and teaching issues. This is a bit from this week’s missive about writing apps and tools (edited and expanded from what went to my hapless colleagues who received it, unbidden, this morning).
Just got done doing a very fun interview with Greg Bishop of Radio Misterioso. Unfortunately, the live stream at killradio was malfunctioning so it’s unclear how many—if any!—people heard it. Greg should have the downloadable version up sooner rather than later.
Along with talking about The Chaos Conundrum and Extraterrestrials and the American Zeitgeist we discussed the nature of the paranormal, the hassles of writing (and the hassles of getting people to publish said writing), and thousands of other topics.
One thing, which i brought up when I was briefly on the other week was the Boxcar Willie as Lizard Person meme. It’s out there, in various places. Here is an un-retouched shot of a Google search I just undertook:
Indeed, every individual accused of reptilian paedophilia by David Icke had so far failed to sue, including Bob Hope, George Bush, George Bush Jr, Ted Heath, the Rothschild family, Boxcar Willie, the Queen of England, the Queen Mother, Prince Philip, Kris Kristofferson, Al Gore and the steering committee of the Bilderberg Group.
This was from early 2001, so the Boxcar-Willie-as-LIzard-person notion has been around for a while. On RM, with Greg, I posited that it emerged as a conflation of Icke’s reptilian stuff with the mind control/pedophilia/cocaine/country music industry conspiracy promoted by Cathy O’Brien in Trance-Formation of America, a troubling and strange book.
While tracking down the origins of the various slanders against BCW is just plain fun, it also is part of a new project I’m working on (that will be finished sometime in 2015). Speaking of work, here’s some word-accountability:
I’m back from the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association conference for this year, held in relatively close-by Chicago. It was—as usual—a good conference. In particular, this year, I was able to attend some great Civil War/Reconstruction culture panels with some great papers on guerrilla warfare in North Carolina, Texas, and other places.
The best thing I learned though, was the existence of the 19th century Bible prophecy writings of one Samuel Baldwin, a Tennessee preacher. Excellent fodder for my early US class the next time I teach it.
My presentation (slides here!) was well-recieved. The topic is, generally, the basic direction of my under-way book project (BLACK SCREWDRIVER) and I’m not entirely comfortable posting the text of the talk since it’s very much part of an in-progress thing (and it was very much a note/outline/thing to talk from rather than a polished paper, mostly due to constant editing that just didn’t stop until I finally delivered the thing).
Other updates, met my editor on BLACK SCREWDRIVER in the real-world rather than just email and got to see my editors on some other projects (EIGHTH WRENCH and the newly christened SLINGSHOT) as well as other cool people I generally only see at this conference.
The epic sabbatical project is is rounding the last corner this week, finishing up next week, then tweaking and student-road-testing during the spring session.
More later, I hope. I recorded my author talk from last week and there may be some excerpts here if I have time.
That’s where I am right now on BLACK SCREWDRIVER. SLEDGEHAMMER GOLDEN, the conference presentation on roughly similar topics is currently sitting the “to be done” soon pile, as that needs be ready to go in a week or two.
Lots of traveling this month—just got back from Chicago for a thing that didn’t have anything to do with history, flying saucers, television, or education. It was strange. Below is evidence that I worked on this trip (that’s my low-end, road warrior Thinkpad on the Amtrak Blue Water line).
I’m in Indiana on family and friend business from tomorrow, back to Chicago for the aforementioned conference the week after that. Blessedly I get to avoid aircraft and their attendant hassles for the foreseeable future, as all my personal and business travel is achievable with cars and rail.
The sabbatical project (ENDLESS WEATHER) is entering the final push to completion (or at least complete enough to inflict on students when I start teaching again next month). It will be good to have that completed. On top of that is the administrative stuff involved with getting back to work on campus. April will be busy.
This is coming up as well, on campus in a week or so. It will be fun, and I will have copies of The Chaos Conundrum to sell and sign. Light refreshments as well!
I should get back to work now.
Another quick podcast appearance to note, this time on Reality Bomb, a very well-produced magazine-style Doctor Who show. My role was as part of the “Gallery of the Underrated” segment, where I defended the 1983 story “Terminus” which featured the best 1980s Doctor, Peter Davison. It’s a great story and my defense of it garnered me a brief Twitter mention from its writer, the prolific Stephen Gallagher:
— AJ Gulyas (@firkon) March 19, 2014
— Stephen Gallagher (@brooligan) March 19, 2014
If you’re interested in writing and/or the ins and outs of television production, his account and website are worth keeping an eye on.
Despite it being the weekend, I’ve managed to get some work done on the new book. I’m currently slogging through the opening chapters while outlining some of the later ones and simultaneously doing some quick fact checking on the ins and outs of the American TV industry in the 90s. Also, this new convention of one space after a period is really difficult to cope with.
And I’ve still got this lot to get through in a bit:
That’s not even all of it—there are the second two excellent seasons of Millennium as well as old episodes of Kolchak and In Search Of… as background viewing.
Project ENDLESS WEATHER continues apace—due to weather and illness my initial timeline for completion has had to be completely reworked but I’m still in good shape.
EIGHTH WRENCH is in the early planning phases. Unless procrastination or disaster strikes I should have that project taken care off long before its September deadline (which would make the people who need it very, very happy).
Sabbatical time is winding down and I’ll be back in front of students in a bit over a month, so I have to add syllabi creation and class prep to the task lists.
A cold morning here in Michigan, as it looks like they all will be for the foreseeable. I’ve just about gotten used to it.
Of course, that means I’ve no excuse not to stay indoors and get work done. So, for the purposes of enlightening all of you (and, more importantly, as an entry in what will hopefully be a good work diary of 2014 that I can look back on fondly when I forget what I spent the year doing), here’s what’s happening.
ENDLESS WEATHER, the history/education focused sabbatical project that has no actual name at this point is coming along well. I’ve just about finished with the Early US course content, very nearly by my self-imposed deadline. I anticipate that this will be the section where things take the longest—I’ve had a lot of instances where I’ve had to stop and admit that my initial ideas were not that great. For example, there are some documents that are just too long for practical classroom use among students in a 100-level survey. Thus, there’s some editing that I wasn’t anticipating. I’m also rethinking the “document + assessment = done” model as there are a lot of sources across time and space that would work well together. So, I think the early US section is going to take the most time and hopefully the lessons learned will make the rest go more smoothly. The web-side of things is still up in the air, which is good, otherwise I’d be tinkering with website stuff and procrastinating on the content.
BLACK SCREWDRIVER–the book project for Rowman & Littlefield, Publishers—is in the massive research and outlining stages. I’m spending much more time on the outlining with this project than I have with previous ones (because it’s a lot bigger—at least it feels that way). After looking around at outlining tools, I settled on Cloud Outliner because it’s cheap and it does what I need it to. I’m also dedicated (at this point anyway) to doing the writing in Scrivener. Niftily, Cloud Outliner will export outlines in OPML format readable by Scrivener, so that should save a step or two. I’m currently doing paragraph-level outlines of chapters, which hopefully will pay off when the drafting commences in a bit. The outline for the first chapter is actually at about 20% of my target word count, which is far more detail than I usually indulge in.
Of course, the fun part of this project is getting to watch (and re-watch) a huge amount of 1990s SF television.
It’s also allowing me to spend some quality time with the paranoid fringes of the Internet (and some of the older, non-Internet computer networks and BBS’s) as well as pondering on the significance of Omni magazine, which was a mainstay of my reading in high school. Wonderfully, Omni is available in its entirety in PDF format from the Internet Archive.
I also need to finish up SIENNA SMOKE, which I now feel comfortable mentioning (since the program for the conference is up and I’m actually on it!). it’s a brief (10 minute) lightning talk on storytelling and teaching for the LAND Conference, coming up next month in Bay City. Usually I don’t write out talks, but since there’s a strict time limit, I should probably make sure whatever I’m saying comes in under the wire.
Quick reminder, I’ll be on Where Did The Road Go? this Saturday from 11:00 PM to Midnight, Eastern time.
Okay—this has gotten my typing fingers warmed up. Time to go to work.