I need a conference-blind.
So, in place of any names I may have named on my Sociologist Watcher's List (with the exception of my guest blogger and the bloggers I read/am harassed by) I now substitute an entirely non-threatening picture of a puppy.
Awwwwww.... now isn't that cute? Don't we all feel reassured and happy because there's nothing at all here to challenge us? I know I diddly-do.
My sister is an avid birdwatcher (hardly surprising, considering she's a professional biologist specializing in birds) and my childhood was, in a sense, an experience of growing accustomed to her voyeuristic tendencies in this regard. I say, with no small amount of pride, that I am capable of identifying a relatively wide variety of birds thanks to my sister's influence. Regrettably this influence has not gone both ways, as she remains essentially unable to distinguish radically different types of aircraft from each other. As a long time subscriber to the Smithsonian's "Air & Space" magazine, I do feel as though I have failed.
I am reminded of my sister's practices in this regard by ProcFreak as she comments that:
"...all the other sociologists will start to regard our grad students with a certain amount of suspicion and apprehension, pointing and snickering as we pass them in the halls."
She is, of course, referring to the ASA convention in San Francisco here, as opposed to some sort of pan-sociological high school in which we all compete in a deranged popularity contest. No, that we call the tenure process. (For the record: I call dibs on the head cheerleader here at Sociology High.) What reminds me of my sister in all this, though, is the pointing (and snickering). My experience at conferences so far is that they're less about the papers, or the panels, than they are about socializing. For those of us who are trying to get jobs someday, it's an opportunity to brown nose with faculty. For established faculty, it's a chance to see old friends while attempting to avoid job-hungry grad students. Still, whatever your purpose, the entire event has something of bird-watching to it.
I can remember at previous conferences trading sightings with my fellow grad students, almost as though we were Hollywood Paparazzi.
"I saw John Boli a few minutes ago!" I would exclaim breathlessly.
"Who?" They'd ask.
"You know, John Boli, of Stanford. He worked with John Meyer?" I'd answer.
"Oh. We just saw Erik Olin Wright," They'd reply.
Ah, memories. Still, this game of trying to spot interesting or famous personages is one of the most entertaining things to do at conferences. Well... most entertaining after asking really evil questions of paper authors and trying to avoid your advisor for the duration, anyway. I suppose that I might adopt the game of a friend of mine who reads this blog (you know who you are) and insult "Frank Dobbin's wife", but I really don't think that's my style. Wait, shit, insulting people is exactly my style! I've got a new passtime! I find myself in particular need of such games this year as I won't be presenting anything. Yes, alas, my papers were not accepted by any panel or round table, so you will not have the chance to witness Drek deliver a talk. Let me assure you, this is no great loss. But then, if you read my blog, you pretty much know that already.
Now, in birding a common practice is "listing," or the checking off of various species of birds from a list. The idea, obviously, is to check off as many birds as possible. This seems like a fabulous idea to me, so I present a draft of the new Sociology Watchers list. Feel free to print it out and use it at the conference! Whoever e-mails me the most complete list will get a very special prize. Please keep in mind that I'm a pathological liar, and when I say "prize" I probably mean "I'll mention their name/blog and speculate as to their ancestry." I also welcome additions to the watcher's list, so if there are any other notable figures you think deserve recognition, send them in and I'll include them in the final list.
Sociologist Watcher List- 2004!
(1) Junior faculty member trying to negotiate a book deal.
(2) Senior faculty member glowering at crowd from hotel restaurant.
(3) First grad student in line for the annual book-giveaway.
(4) First grad student trampled during annual book-giveaway.
(5) Any faculty member whose paper presentation includes use of a "boombox." Must be during a regular panel session, roundtables don't count. (I actually saw this at the last ASA held in Washington, D.C.)
(6) The sociologist we refer to as "Lothar the Destroyer."
Note: In cases like the above, where I'm referring to someone specific but don't supply a name, the entry is worth double-points. You have to tell me who I'm referring to, though.
(7) No, we don't call YOU "Lothar the Destroyer." YOU we call "Mr. Itchy."
(8) Faculty couple hooking up in elevator.
(9) Grad student couple hooking up in elevator.
(10) Jim Pass of Astrosociology fame. (Not making a crack here, but I'd be remiss if I didn't include my distinguished guest bloggers.)
(11) The sociologist we believe is from the future. You know, the one with the knuckle lasers.
(12) Disgruntled post-doc.
(13) Disgruntled senior grad student.
(14) Junior grad student, haggard from nightly drinking and the impossibility of sleeping in a room with seven other grad students.
(15) Bright-eyed and cheerful undergrad who intends to become a grad student. Poor, stupid moron.
(16) Poor godforesaken sons of bitches manning the recruitment tables.
(17) The sociologist we believe has a penis approximately the size of a telephone pole. I'll give you a hint: he's very popular with the ladies, is a little terrifying and isn't the same as the guy you saw in number 8. He's way too discreet for that.
(20) Any faculty member who admits to using post-modern theory with a straight face.
(21) Jeremy Freese
(22) Alan Schussman
(23) Kieran Healy
(24) Brayden King
Bonus points for the next three, owing to their relative anonymity...
(26) dorotha harried
(27) Your lovable host, Drek.
(In fact, why doesn't someone organize a dinner for sociology bloggers at the ASAs? Now, for obvious reasons the anonymous among us couldn't attend, but at least we'd hear the stories from you chatty bastards.)
(28) The sociologist we believe to be an android.
(30) Any other attendee using this list. Because, let's face it, almost nobody is reading this crap.
(31) That sociologist, who is a prick, whom I met at Cornell.
(32) Any sociologist who has "renewed their commitment to teaching."
(33) The sociologist who looks remarkably like Jay Leno.
(34) The sociologist who looks a lot like "Seamus the Sailor."
Well, there you have it! So, get your sociology blinds ready, break out the binoculars, and get ready for one hell of a conference.
Hey... I kid because I love, people. Or is it because I'm an asshole? Either way.