Academic Dumas-ery

an adjunct's taleKane X. Faucher’s latest novel is a brilliant adaptation the classic Alexander Dumas tale of revenge, The Count of Monte Cristo.

I’ve always loved the original, and Faucher’s book is a wonderful satire that cleaves to the original plot so carefully, I was continually impressed. I kept thinking, “There’s no way he can maintain this!” But he did. So, I would encourage you to read the original story at some point if you already haven’t, so this pleasure is not denied to you.

In Professor Montgomery Cristo: An Adjunct’s Tale, Dantes is an up-and-coming academic. A PhD candidate with a glorious academic future ahead of him. But then he is wrongly accused of plagiarism (the academic equivalent of murder) and his hopes are dashed. Instead of prison, Dantes’s is sent to a second-rate university, where he must toil as an adjunct professor, where he meets another sessional who will help him achieve his revenge on the jealous academics who ruined him.

All the bones of the original story are there, and then fleshed out with this wonderful satire of the unjust treatment of sessional teachers at modern universities. Sometimes called contract faculty, the life of a sessional can be tough. Particularly when you are on what is called a limited duties appointment, which is renewable term by term. This means sessional don’t always know what they are teaching or even IF they are teaching next semester. The pay is low, and there are often no benefits. At many universities upwards of 40% of courses are taught by adjuncts.

All of these injustices – and many more — are satirized by Faucher in this novel, and it is really worth your time. Now in interests of full disclosure, I must tell you that I have been, and am, a contract faculty member, and that Kane is a colleague, but this is a wholehearted recommendation. This book has the pacing of Dumas and the wicked sense of humor and genius of Faucher.

Alltop loves a good adjuncting.

The Halloween Feast of Madness Bird

women eating hallucinogenic  turkey with pumpkin-headed man

Say what you will about Marge and Delia, but they served a mean turkey dinner.

Sure they might have been witches. Sure, they tended to use a little too much salt when they were cooking. (Probably from all the dehydrated eye of newt, which is very high in sodium, but they could never seem to find it fresh.) Sure, they had a questionable living arrangement, vis-à-vis men with pirate shirts and pumpkins for heads. (Who may or may not have been called Angus McGourd.)

Put their peyote stuffing (with pine nuts and dried) cranberries was delectable.

Alltop likes a little LSD in it’s mashed potatoes. Disturbing photo via Twisted Vintage. Originally published October, 2010.

Star-crossed lovers

The being had crossed all of known space to find her, Lola LaBozla, the smartest woman on Earth. It had tracked her from Earth orbit using the prototype of her own wearable artificial intelligence unit and spaghetti cleanser (AIUSC), that while bulky, had a certain caché and definitely worked with her fish-net stockings. Of course, she realized right away that a being from another star system was using the AIUSC to track her movements, and she was intrigued. Who was this person? Was it a person, or was it some kind of hive mind that inhabited a pile of pasta bacterium?

She was relieved to discover that it not only an individual, but he had a form that was more or less humanoid. She felt this was further evidence of the Anthropic Principle. He had two arms, two legs, and a giant mouth in the middle of his face that had possibilities. His reflective bug-like eyes and claw like hands were a little off-putting, but she was encouraged by the size and girth of his cranium.

She just hoped he wasn’t too attached to wearing the shower cap.

Alltop is never without its ablutions hat. Originally published, October 2011.

Writing: driving you slowly mad

This is an image of The Isolator, purportedly invented by Hugo Gernsback the science fiction pioneer, and clearly, loon.

I haven’t dug into this, so it’s possible this is a hoax, but at the source website, this madness is taken at face value:

The “Isolator” is designed to help focus the mind when reading or writing, not only by by eliminating all outside noise, but also by allowing just one line of text to be seen at a time through a horizontal slit. via A Great Disorder

As the author at A Great Disorder points out, this “solution” for the problem of distractions perhaps takes the solution a little too far. Only allowing the author to see through one tiny slit seems especially mental. Particularly for those of us who, in the 21st century, have atrophied memories, and are incapable of keeping the previous line in our head. How can we maintain paragraph continuity, let alone the continuity of an entire novel?

I imagine The Isolator is the perfect piece of equipment if you want to write some kind of dadaist masterpiece.

Or, if you suffer from even minor claustrophobia, a complete breakdown.

On the other hand, the air supply arrangement does offer certain possibilities…

Alltop has one of these in its bedroom. Originally published October, 2011.