In a few weeks, I (along with a somewhat reluctant companion) will be going to see Blogologue:

Presented by Hamel Road Theatre Project

Blogologue - a live web browsing sketch comedy multi-media stage experience! Born from online blogs (web logs), websites, e-mail, bulletin boards, and general surfing!

It will be running on Fridays and Saturdays the whole month of March, so if you're in the Twin Cities, you ought to see it if you can. Shows at Bryant-Lake Bowl are usually quite good.

Edited to add that you should get tickets in advance. It's a small theater, and shows often sell out; I couldn't see Point Break LIVE! for that reason. :(

Friday Random Ten

A window into my personality? I don't know, but I'd say this randomly-generated playlist is a pretty accurate representation of my stubbornly unhip taste in music.

  1. The Smiths - I Want the One I Can't Have
  2. The Primitives - Crash
  3. Mötley Crüe - Too Young to Fall in Love
  4. Shelby Lynne - Leavin'
  5. Procol Harum - Whiter Shade of Pale
  6. Mary J. Blige - Family Affair
  7. Marvin Gaye - Let's Get It On
  8. Combustible Edison and Esquivel! - Miniskirt
  9. Fleetwood Mac - Tusk (live with USC band)
  10. Ludacris - Southern Hospitality

Conference on Women and the Media

Tired of what you hear on the nightly news -- and the absence of women sources, speakers, pundits, and subjects? Ready to see progressive women's ideas and lives treated as if we matter?

A reader at the Center for New Words told me about what I'm sure will be an exciting conference: Women and the Media: Taking Our Place in the Public Conversation, sponsored by the Center for New Words and MIT's Women's Studies department. As I perused the sessions and speakers, I became increasingly dismayed that I don't have the money to travel very often (if I did, I'd spend a lot more time in Atlanta). Some of the speakers are people I've been wanting to meet for a long time, like Christine Cupaiuolo and Lisa Jervis. If you're close by, I urge you to attend the conference, and blog it! If you're planning on going and blogging it, please let me know so I'll know to read your posts.

Assessing Weblogs in Writing Courses

I don't intend this post to be a response to Mike, but a recent post of his got me thinking about assessment of weblogs in writing pedagogy. I'm asked to give talks on the topic more and more often these days, and people always ask about assessment; I also get a good deal of questions about grading weblog posts in f2f conversation and via email. I'll make my argument for how best to assess weblogs a little later, but for now: What I say is, judging from the responses I get, not really what people want to hear, but I preface it by explaining that my method of assessment is specific to my goal for the weblog, which is primarily to enhance community in the classroom, but then they invariably end up learning a lot about audience and rhetorical practices by engaging in the conversation, too.

Soup in Mass Quantities

I've learned that it's best to surrender to the urge to cook, ride it out, and not feel bad that I'm not doing other work instead. In a book I read a while back, the author, David Allen, claimed that "work" consists of anything in our lives that we want to change from the way it is now to something different. If we want our clothes to go from dirty to clean, that's work, just as grading papers or writing article manuscripts is. So cooking is work that, if done now, will save me time another day (and probably will save money too), and it's soothing to boot. My freezer now looks like my grandmother's deep freeze, full of sour cream containers and peanut butter jars of soup, both perfect bringing-lunch-to-school portions.

The first soup I made was from a recipe I've had my eye on for a while from The Steinbeck House Cookbook:

Leek and Tomato Soup

2 leeks, including some of the green part, chopped and washed well
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
4 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
4 c. chicken stock or canned broth
2 c. canned beef broth
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil leaves
Salt and white pepper

In a kettle, cook the leeks in butter over moderately low heat, stirring for 5 minutes or until softened. Add tomatoes and cook the vegetables for 1 minute. Add the stock and the broth. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer it for 10 minutes. Add the basil and salt and white pepper to taste. Serves 8.

Now someday I'll make the soup the right way, but for now I'm too poor and lazy. I did chop up three fresh tomatoes, but didn't peel them or remove the seeds. While I love basil, I couldn't bring myself to buy a package of pricey fresh basil just for 1/4 cup; instead, I used a can of crushed tomatoes with basil. And I didn't buy white pepper. The soup was delicious anyway, and I'll be eating the frozen portions for a while.

I also wanted to make a heartier soup using carrots, potatoes, and onion. After I finished the leek and tomato soup, I boiled carrots, then put in the potatoes, then the onion. I didn't use much water so that I'd have a good water-to-vegetables ratio and wouldn't have to strain the vegetables. After the carrots, potatoes, and onion softened, I added chicken broth, beef broth, a can of kidney beans, a can of diced tomatoes, some red pepper flakes, and a little Cavender's Greek seasoning. Also delicious.

I find myself in a kind of trance while cooking, and I love the feeling. It reminds me of when I was more heavily into photography and spending a lot of time in the darkroom. I'd develop film and make prints for hours, thinking, but not having any verbal thoughts.

Another Gender+Blogging Artifact

Here's a source I used in some earlier work I did on gender and blogging in Fall 2002. It doesn't exactly fit with the Where are the women? question, but it's telling nonetheless: Getting Started with Blogging for the Attractive Female Blogger (from September 3, 2002). I find it quite interesting that back in 2002, discussions of gender in the blogosphere dealt with questions of physical attractiveness and whether a given woman blogged about sex or not -- and the effects of those two factors on readership and linking -- and the late-2004 and 2005 discussions are centered more on assumptions such as: Women don't write about politics, women don't enjoy the sporting-event (a.k.a. "food fight," a.k.a. agonistic) character of debates on weblogs, women don't promote their own weblogs as much as men do, etc. Not that this last set of claims just came up in 2004-2005, but it seems to me that bloggers are more interested in talking about them now than the ideas of attractiveness and sexual content. I intend to talk about this slight shift in my dissertation (the prospectus defense was fine, by the way; my committee helped me out a lot, and I think what I've got now is much more manageable and narrow.). The next hurdles are to fill out an application for exemption with the Institutional Review Board and to write a three-page (3!!) dissertation proposal for a university-wide dissertation fellowship for which I was nominated. I also have to write a one-page personal statement, kind of an intellectual history. Maybe I'll post it here.

UPDATE: Then again, it seems the sex-sells issue remains relevant. I had forgotten about Lauren's astute statement addressing it. Durr.

On Recommendation Letters for Students

I get asked to write recommendation letters (and to be listed as a reference) for former students quite often compared to my colleagues, it seems, but certainly not as often as David Galef, as he explains in his recommendation letter parody, My 57th Recommendation Letter This Week. Just read it and grin.

Via Jeremy.

More on Gender and Blogging

Spurred by a couple of recent posts by Kevin Drum and the swift, prodigious response to said posts, I've updated the link portal on gender in the blogosphere. Lauren's right; I do have my work cut out for me. Must prepare presentation for prospectus defense now...

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