Saturday, August 11, 2007

One More Blog

Fosco's sister, Maggie Tulliver, has decided to take that hiatus from a life in retail that we like to call "graduate school in the humanities." (Fosco is no exception--there is a sales associate position at Sephora waiting for him upon completion of his PhD in Literature.) Sister Maggie will be attending the intellectually intimidating University of Chicago and just moved to a small studio in Hyde Park. As part of her grad student life, she's got a new computer and a new interest in all things internetish. She wants to start a blog, but she doesn't know what to name it. Let's help her, shall we?

Good Names for a Blog by Fosco's Sister

Getting to know me...

Fosco's been tagged again. As far as blog memes go, "Seven Things You Don't Know About Me" isn't a bad one (although it does raise some epistemological questions that I really don't know what to do with... I mean what do "you" really "know" about me anyway? But let's bracket those issues). It's certainly a preferable meme to

But anyway...

1. I don't really like movies. The last movie I went to in the theater (excluding art installations) was in calendar year 2005 (hint: there was "no day but today"). There are indeed movies I love (and I do tend to follow which movies are in theaters), but I can always think of about 15 things I'd rather do than watch a movie (including making out with Lindsay Lohan).

2. I've met Pat Buchanan not once, but TWICE. Let me insist that I am not proud of this fact. You know how some people use college as a time to experiment with drugs and lesbianism? Well unfortunately, Fosco experimented with fascism. I have since repented and am working on my redemption--redemption is a long process. I wish I could say the same for Buchanan. And what is that stuff he's covered with? Banana cream?

3. I have been to 41 of the 50 US states. And by "been to," I mean "spent non-trivial amounts of time in." What am I missing? Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, Montana, North Dakota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas. Luckily, at least five of those states will be worth visiting (guess which won't be).

4. My favorite flower is the grape hyacinth.

5. In one of his former academic incarnations, Fosco published a journal article and a book chapter about nonverbal behavior and deception.

6. In January, I sat next to Florence Henderson at the bar at Jean-Georges in NYC. She looked lovely. At first I thought it was a woman who looked like her, but when she spoke to the obsequious maitre d', it was clearly her.

I guess that was before she started dating that handsome-looking ear.

7. In college, I once worked for an entire summer at Au Bon Pain. Remember: it's not fast food--it's good food fast.

Here's hoping that this list doesn't become "Seven Things You Now Hate About Fosco."

Fosco tags... no one. Unless you want to do it. Then consider yourself tagged.

The Kooch Is Back!

Fosco thought the local vegans looked especially excited this weekend (one of them may have even been smiling, although it's so hard to tell with vegans). But now Fosco knows why: local favorite Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich was back in Santa Cruz!

Kucinich's earnest pro-peace progressivism is a home run in Hippietown USA. (And, all snarkery aside, Fosco does appreciate Kucinich's politics.) According to the Santa Cruz Sentinel, the Kooch is back in Santa Cruz to take his rightful place as the local fundraising leader:

While Kucinich had ranked eighth in Santa Cruz County for fundraising in the 2008 presidential race, Friday's event had a chance of putting him up with Barack Obama as the local fundraising frontrunner.
C'mon Santa Cruzers, let's take Barack down!

But seriously, can you imagine what a Kucinich fundraiser must look like? Let your cynicism run free...
With Monterey Bay behind him, Kucinich spoke to a typically diverse Santa Cruz crowd: some in attendance were barefoot — including Kucinich's wife, Elizabeth, 29.
Ummm, barefoot? And wait, the Kooch has a 29 year-old wife?

Yep, it's true. Sixty-year-old DK is married to a redheaded British giantess less than half his age. Fosco will withhold judgment on the hotness of Ms. Kooch until he hears from his favorite connoisseur of redheads. But even so, if Fosco were a vegan, apparently he could date a sixteen-year-old. Eeek! That's just not right.

Actually, it appears that the love story between these two is pretty sweet. Read a sympathetic account of it here. Is America ready for a First Lady with a tongue stud? I bet you know how FoxNews feels about that.

Fosco plans to spend the afternoon baking some hemp peanut butter cookies. Mmmm, sustainable.

Friday, August 10, 2007

From the Annals of Not Blogging

Why was Fosco absent from blogging for so long? He has promised some explanations. Here's one now.

Fosco couldn't blog because he was busy... writing student narrative evaluations. Here's the thing. When it was created by a bunch of hippie academics, UC Santa Cruz did not use letter grades! The policy was described in an assessment conducted in 1994:

UCSC opened in 1965 during a time of unprecedented university growth, student protest, and introspection. The founding faculty, dissatisfied with traditional forms of grading, opted for a system that was intended to provide a better understanding of what a student had achieved in a course, while downplaying the competitive aspects of learning. Faculty-authored narrative evaluations were adopted in lieu of letter grades. UCSC instructors would write a personalized narrative evaluation of each student's academic performance in all courses in which the student earned credit.

How progressive! How admirable! How... much work for the instructors!

Because, of course, guess who writes the narrative evals...

If you answered "the TAs," you are correct.

Wait. It gets dopier. In 2000, UCSC added mandatory letter grades for its undergraduates... in addition to narrative evaluations. So, as a TA you have to prepare TWO different types of evaluation for each student: a letter grade and a written narrative evaluation.

Now Fosco hates to complain about life as a TA (after all, isn't it all part of the apprenticeship process?) But it does take a remarkable amount of time to sum up the performance of a student in a narrative, especially since an evaluation has to

  • contain enough detail about the student's work in the course to make it clear that you know who he or she is.
  • follow a specific format (there must be a sentence describing each major assignment in the course).
  • avoid making any reference to personal attributes of the student or your impressions of the student's behavior. You can only talk about the work itself.
In the end, you write extremely formulaic evaluations that you attempt to enliven with novel adjectives. The Thesaurus is a good friend during eval writing.

What makes this process even worse is that throughout it you have the gray feeling that no one (not the student nor any prospective employer of said student) will EVER read this evaluation.

Are you curious? Here's a sample:
Lindsay's performance in the course was generally quite good. She attended lecture and section almost without fail and occasionally participated in section discussion. Her first paper, a comparison of Captain Singleton and Oroonoko, showed good close reading skills and evidenced room for improvement in argument development. Her second paper showed great improvement in extending a close reading; however, the thesis was not as strong as it could have been. Lindsay’s final exam was her best work of the quarter and showed a deep understanding of the course material.

This one took about, say... 30 minutes to write. Ouch.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


I mentioned in passing in yesterday's (new, improved, and expanded) post that ghosts and haunting are hot, hot, hot right now in critical theory.

But what is doing all this haunting? As a service to my non-theory-head readers, I offer a primer that I will call

What's Haunting Us Now

  • history
  • queer things
  • Marx
  • the postcolonial
  • gender
  • bees
  • our childhood
  • pre-modernity
  • Enya
  • the academic job market

Feel free to add your own...

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Fosco's Professor Crush of the Year

You know how some professors are just so brilliant and eloquent that you develop a huge crush on them? Like when George Michael Bluth had that thing for Ms. Baerly (incidentally, one of only two good performances in Heather Graham's career)?

Meet David Marriott, Associate Professor of History of Consciousness here at UCSC. He's both a theorist and a poet. His "French Hegel" seminar was one of the two greatest intellectual highs of Fosco's life.

You know how ghosts and haunting are hot in the humanities right now? You should check out David's book Haunted Life.

Here is a poem from David's collection Incognegro:


laws of the city for nothing gets lost,
the unwritten laws of the dead for the dead,--

I feel old here, defeated,
lean, unshaven, sick and limp,

surprised at the flesh sagging,
reacquainted with my indifference to sex:

too old to change, too young to love anybody but myself--
listen, then, to my story:

of how the streets are narrower, the buildings smaller,
than remembered; of how a tree in a park was rescued

from the developers of mainland classical culture.
Who are they, standing around doing nothing?

Ten years of my life lost to the weight of things,
the constant reversals, the humbling taste of glory,

and think of the rooms, the tiny shared rooms where family gathered,
a loss barely glanced at in the light of day.

Amazing, huh? I recommend checking out the whole collection. Instead of blogging during the Spring quarter, I served as co-president of the David Marriott Fan Club with my friend Juliana (a distinguised poet in her own right). We're having a bake sale this fall to raise money for our activities.

Rumors of Fosco's death..

...were slightly exaggerated.

I'm back, baby!

In the next few days, I'll be posting a series to help you catch up on Fosco's life since mid-February.

I'll tell you

  • what Fosco has been doing instead of blogging.
  • what it was like to finish year one of literature grad school.
  • about some exceptional meals I've eaten recently.
  • who to contact if you'd like to buy property in lovely Bonita Springs, Florida.
  • where Fosco went on his summer vacation.
Oh yes, and I'll continue the tradition of music criticism, cultural commentary, and snarkery.