Home | Away

Goin’ south

February was another record-breaking month for this record-breaking blog.  We had 220,000 visitors in January, and 225,000 in February—a remarkable thing, for three reasons: we’d never broken 200,000 before, and February is three days shorter than January in the Northern hemisphere, and the January stats were fueled by an Eschalanche on January 12.  As all of us ordinary bloggers know, there are visitor stats, and then there are Atrios-inflected visitor stats.  Anyway, thank you all, once again, for stopping by.

So, then.  Now seems a good time to announce that I’ll be gone for the month of March.

No, I’m not going to be completely gone—I’ll keep posting twice a week, and I’ll fill in the blog here and there with a pungent combination of short essays (previously published) and Greatest Hits from back in the prehistoric era when this blog was giddy with delight at the idea of having one thousand readers in a single day.  But I’m cutting back drastically for the entire month of March, because . . .

I have me a short-term fellowship from the National Humanities Center!  And I’ll be living in an apartment in balmy North Carolina for the next thirty days!

It’s very weird, and a little scary.  I’ve never done anything like this before, for the obvious reasons: child number one, and child number two.  Now you know why I’ve been thinking so much about Jamie lately: I’ve never been apart from him for so long.  When he was still a baby, in early 1993, I was in Brazil for two weeks on a secret mission for the U.S. Information Agency (I’ll post my account of that trip at some point), but since then I haven’t been apart from him for more than a couple of days at a time.  We’ve been talking about it every night, and he seems perfectly OK with it.  But we’ll have to see how it goes.

And what about Janet?  Well, of course being apart from Janet will be rough as well.  But we have some precedent: she taught in Ireland for a month in 2003 and will do so again this summer, and back in the Boys’ Summer of 1996, I got her a sublet in Chicago for three months so that she could finish her book without endless interruptions from well-meaning colleagues asking her to serve on this committee and that Summer Internship thing and so forth.  So this is simply the first time I’ve gone away.

As for what I’ll be doing at the NHC: I’m tempted to say—really, really tempted—that I’ve been appointed to the Institute for Advanced Snark and Horowitz Mockery, because that would be mildly funny.  But really, I’ll be reading many many books and making notes for the Next Big Project.  About which, of course, I cannot speak, because talking about such things always jinxes them.

In the meantime, you’re welcome to contribute to the latest Comment Party on this humble and bag-packing blog.  It was started by “g” in comment 40 to yesterday’s post

I’m working on a project to feed Horowitz and his disciples (the Bruin professors kid and “Dean” Chris Flickinger) the names of some truly reprehensible professors—all of whom are characters in fiction. I baited Horowitz with the character knowns as “Orshee” in Richard Russo’s “Straight Man,” and got an email back from him with a request for more info.

The suggestions that follow are creative and hilarious.  They also bump up next to a project that Chris Clarke has reportedly been working on for a while: compiling a list of Fictional Characters Who Are Hurting America.  Chris, you see, noted with some impatience that these lists—Horowitz’s and Bernie Goldberg’s—confine themselves to “actual” people, or at least to wingnuts’ fantasies about actual people, and completely ignore the fictional characters who are trying to destroy our country.  Chris asked for names a few weeks ago, and I mentioned, among others, Stagger Lee and The Vodka-Drinking Welfare Queen.  Stop by Chris’s place today and say hi—and tell him Professor Pnin sent you!

Posted by on 03/01 at 11:26 AM
  1. Gah! Guess I have to write that now.

    captcha: tried.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  03/01  at  12:50 PM
  2. Um, what about your professoring job at PSU?  What happens for A WHOLE MONTH you’re gone?

    Posted by Bulworth  on  03/01  at  12:55 PM
  3. Chris:  yep!  Sorry to put you on the spot, though.  No, wait, I’m not sorry.

    Bulworth:  damn!  I forgot about my professoring job. 

    No, actually, I’ve got it covered.  I have a truly wonderful schedule this term:  one seminar.  It meets on Wednesdays, like, right about now.  Next week is spring break.  On the 15th I fly back up here to teach.  Then I moved the class on the 22nd to my very own house on April 1, and the class on the 29th to the first week of May, all with my students’ consent.  And I’ll be reading their paper proposals on the plane tonight!

    Posted by Michael  on  03/01  at  01:23 PM
  4. At last! Some time to work on that big book on the times and letters of Emile Francis. Safe travels, Michael.

    Posted by  on  03/01  at  01:34 PM
  5. I’m hearing lately from William Kristol that the reason nobody has caught The Roadrunner is that there hasn’t been a serious effort.

    Posted by Gavin M.  on  03/01  at  01:44 PM
  6. Ok, more fictitous professors or things to do while making up a Media Studies Midterm. 
    We cannot forget Professor Victor Frankenstein who violated school policy even for a scientist. somone in the previous thread mentioned Spiderman’s mad scientist Professors and got the nom du crime of professor Curt Connors wrong, it is the Lizard and I will add Professor Warren, The Jackal.
    Besides the scientists, we can not leave out the visiting Professor from Ireland, Gabriel Conroy and did not Dedalaus get his professorship by now.  Are they still aesthetes or IRA fellow travelers for Horowitz.

    Posted by  on  03/01  at  01:47 PM
  7. I nominate Neil Fraser, a.k.a. The Mad Professor. His so-called ‘dub experiments’ have led to inalculable marijuana abuse.

    Posted by Gavin M.  on  03/01  at  01:57 PM
  8. I’m envious.  Make sure that someone takes you to Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill for Sunday brunch.  It’s probably nice enough to eat outside, too.  For coffee and/or lunch while writing outside in the glorious spring weather, go to Foster’s Market in Durham. 

    captcha:  what

    Posted by  on  03/01  at  01:59 PM
  9. Well, if we can go fictional then I nominate Henry Higgins and Marc Chabot.

    Posted by Roxanne  on  03/01  at  02:50 PM
  10. RE: those 220,000 hits . . . I know this guy who wrote a little script and . . .

    [captcha: “married,” and you know what?  I am!]

    Posted by Scott Eric Kaufman  on  03/01  at  03:24 PM
  11. We obviously need more illustrators. It’s MB by a nose.

    Posted by  on  03/01  at  03:51 PM
  12. Time to reread Lucky Jim, obviously.  And Straight Man, for that matter.  Two of the funniest books evah!  Hmm and how about the Wizarding books of Terry Pratchett.  I know there are some dangerous professors at Unseen University.

    Posted by  on  03/01  at  03:57 PM
  13. I admit I haven’t read them, but don’t Saul Bellow’s novels contain some professors?  (Or is he Horowitz-safe because he taught at the U. of Chicago?)

    Posted by  on  03/01  at  04:25 PM
  14. Professor Roy Hinkley, Jr.-- dangerous and capable of passing on coconut shell technology to our enemies!

    Posted by  on  03/01  at  04:26 PM
  15. Moses Herzog definitely belongs and what of Professor Dumbeldore and also those Defense of the mystic arts professors, thye can’t even keep their jobs.

    Posted by  on  03/01  at  04:32 PM
  16. Well, if it’s Hogwarts you want, I nominate Professors Lockhart and Umbridge, each of whom, in very different ways, were very dangerous to Harry’s arm.

    Also, there are some rumors that Lockhart didn’t really write all his books.  I wonder if he could blame this on his staff? 

    Posted by Michael  on  03/01  at  04:39 PM
  17. There is no professor more dangerous to the Right than Robert Langdon. And by summer’s end, we’re all going to be sick sick sick of him.

    Posted by Roxanne  on  03/01  at  04:46 PM
  18. Susan Calvin and Sivasubramanian Chandrasegarampillai.

    Posted by Ben Martin  on  03/01  at  04:56 PM
  19. Professor Berube,

    Just a quick note before you head out.  Last night (28 Feb.) David Horowitz was a guest on MSNBC’s “The Situation with Tucker Carlson” (which, of course is a terrible show; but, alas I’m a news junkie, and MSNBC is the least worst of television.  Also, watching Tucker Carlson gives me some practice for cursing at the television, which I’ll need come baseball season).  Anyway, Tucker was praising Horowitz the whole time (saying what a great public service he was doing, reminding viewers not to donate to these universities, etc.) and towards the end of the interview asked him: “So who’s the worst?  We all know about Ward Churchill, but who else is among the worst?” At this point I expected, with some glee, to hear your name, since you currently occupy the top position on his website’s poll (37,527 votes).  However, Horowitz only named Nicholas de Genova (measely 13 votes)!  Thus, either Horowitz doesn’t take his own poll/website seriously or he doesn’t care what his readers think.  Or, as is the preference of this blog, the answer is BOTH.

    As for dangerous fictional professors: Pnin, Kinbote, and a battery of professors from White Noise who study cereal box tops and frequency of brushing teeth with one’s finger.

    At any rate, Bon voyage et bon chance avec votre travail!

    Posted by  on  03/01  at  05:00 PM
  20. This is an obscure one, but how about Professor Dennis Remillard?  By day, hippy anti-American pacifist, politically outspoken, and proponent of a sort of galactic UN.  Some evidence that by night, may be the terrorist codenamed ‘Fury’!

    Posted by  on  03/01  at  05:02 PM
  21. Posted by Bulworth  on  03/01  at  05:39 PM
  22. where in North Carolina?

    You’re probably both aware and unaware of the fact that Rear Admiral Horowitz is speaking here at Dook on March 7th.

    If’n yer near, may I suggest descending from the ceiling perched atop a golden moon? It’s worked before. The moon is a danger to werewolves.

    Posted by  on  03/01  at  06:33 PM
  23. DUUUDE!

    Huricanes v. Rangers March 14


    Posted by  on  03/01  at  08:02 PM
  24. What a timely visit!  Your nemesis David Horowitz will be speaking at Duke on March 7, under the auspices of the campus chapter of Students for Academic Freedom.

    Posted by  on  03/01  at  08:57 PM
  25. Don’t forget the non-fictional, but memoir-constructed Jim Watson, co-discoverer of DNA’s code-bearing structure. In “The Double Helix,” he calls Christmas the remnant of a dead religion, and displays a dangerous affinity for European cultural elites, whom he allows to air all sorts of anti-American views. Not to mention dealing a death-blow to creationism. In the plus column, he does do a good job keeping Rosalind Franklin in her place.

    Posted by  on  03/01  at  09:53 PM
  26. That’s a great gig, Michael.  Congratulations, and enjoy your break ...

    However, should you find you have a free minute when you come down south, there is someone in the really, really South who could use the help right now of America’s Most Dangerous Professor and the oxygen of publicity you and your 200,000 visitors can provide.  I refer to Donna E Shalala, president of the University of Miami, and she desperately needs some good press, Michael, of the kind that only you can give her.  I feel sure that the open-minded readers of your blog will not be swayed by all the nasty propaganda being put about by the faculty, students, and workers at the university.  The University’s janitors are currently on strike, claiming preposterously that $7/hr and no health insurance are somehow inadequate just because their wages are below the federal poverty line, and daring to draw attention to the fact that Prez Shalala had some previous job that had something or other to do with healthcare.  They are touting that old, old Little Guy vs. the Corporation line, and they are frankly having some success in occupying the moral high ground here. For some strange reason, they also thought the recent New York Times Magazine profile of Prez Shalala in her 9,000-square-foot house, with its private dock and four beds for her dog Sweetie, was in poor taste, and have had the temerity to make fun of her purchase of a 29-foot yacht and to make public her perfectly reasonable salary, which is only barely above the Federal Minimum Ex-Clinton Cabinet University Presidential Wage of $500,000.  Worst of all, this besmirching of her good name comes at a terrible time for her personally—just when the perfect job has opened up at some university or other in eastern Massachussetts.  Show her some love, Michael!  I am sure that you and your readers can find it in your hearts to reach out and let her know how much you appreciate her sterling efforts to keep the University of Miami in its current hard-won position in the Janitors Salary League (195th out of 197 major universities, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education).  Her phone number, should you wish to call, is (305) 284-5155.

    Posted by  on  03/01  at  10:18 PM
  27. Hey Michael, have a great time. As it seems you won’t be too present here, I will send you my (as always, wrong) pre-season baseball predictions privately, so they won’t receive too much public scorn.

    I hope they have a good NHL cable package in your digs.

    Posted by david ross mcirvine  on  03/02  at  12:37 AM
  28. The mention of “Dean" Christopher Flickinger lit a lightbulb in my household.
    On March 12 of last year, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial page readers were “treated” to one of those self-parodying hate-filled attempts at humor that only a certain breed of wingnut can produce.
    Sample witticism: It’s like you’re walking around with a big “L” on your forehead—Loser!
    The author was identified merely as Christopher Flickinger - a writer living in Canonsburg.
    [The Post-Gazette did semi-redeem itself by publishing a very generous dose of user rebuttals.]
    It is horrifying (yet at some level perversely apt) to see that this was from a national-level wanker and not, as we all presumed, a mere local nut.

    You’ve Got a Friend in Pennsylvania

    Posted by  on  03/02  at  01:07 AM
  29. # Dr. Bledsoe, from _Invisible Man_
    # Professor Longhair?
    # The princes of Laputa, if only they had names.
    # Ignatius J. Reilly in _A Confederacy of Dunces_ is not a professor, but is the world’s worst TA
    # Mr. Chips! And the scholar-monks of Shangri-La in _Lost Horizon_

    The NHC is a neat place in a beautiful location, in a great part of the state. A place devoted to the work of scholarship; how utopian. When does the minor league baseball get going?

    I had one of my many grad student social humiliations at the NHC. I showed up at an open house wine-and-cheese meet-this-year’s-fellows thing, because I wanted to meet a historian who I was relying on for a lot of background in my diss. Turned out she was not going to arrive until the next week. And I had zero connection to anyone there, and I was a grad student, and I felt like a kid at the grownup party. So how long should one hang around with a plate of cheese before bolting out the door, in that case?

    Maturity, of course, has given me unlimited social skills . . . .

    Posted by  on  03/02  at  01:13 AM
  30. Needless to say, many if not all of the fictional characters currently destroying America trace their lineage to France.

    Posted by Matt  on  03/02  at  02:10 AM
  31. Howard Kirk is enjoying a year as visiting professor at a University near you.

    Posted by  on  03/02  at  03:58 AM
  32. Hmmm - February is short only in the northern clime and ‘one seminar a week?’ Damn (grumble grumble) Ivy (moan moan) Leaguers! Enjoy yourself for the rest of us droning away in Greater Academia.

    Posted by  on  03/02  at  09:08 AM
  33. Never mind.  It’s Penn *State* not Penn.
    Now I’m not jealous at all.....  Have a great time down South!

    Posted by  on  03/02  at  09:11 AM
  34. Actually, @bates, to paraphrase Derek Smalls from Spinal Tap, I envy me.  I have a great job, and no Penn-envy whatsoever.

    Say hello to everyone in my father’s hometown, by the way!

    Posted by Michael  on  03/02  at  09:29 AM
  35. Welcome to spring; it’s going to be in the high 70s today here in North Carolina and I saw my first violet yesterday. I’ve only recently become a fan of your blog. Will you be making any public appearances while you’re in our fair region?

    Posted by  on  03/02  at  11:38 AM
  36. Chris - Howard Kirk, good call. It was historically inevitable that his name would come up

    May I warn you about:
    Professor Felina Ivy
    Prof William Crinsworth
    Professor Piehead
    Professor Griff

    Posted by saltydog  on  03/02  at  09:21 PM
  37. "February is three days shorter than January in the Northern hemisphere”

    See, THIS is the kind of thing that makes you a dangerous professor—messing with my mind like that!

    Posted by Dr. Free-Ride  on  03/03  at  12:08 AM
  38. Let’s don’t forget Professor John Frink.  He’s very dangerous, mw-hurgn-whey.

    Posted by  on  03/03  at  01:20 AM
  39. Hey, you’ll be just a pleasant 3.5 hour drive from glorious Columbia, South Carolina!

    Posted by Ann Bartow  on  03/05  at  09:06 PM





Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Submit the word you see below:

<< Back to main