Blogging starts to pay off
Though real money has yet to accrue from this site other than a certain reader’s occasional donations, the blogging/editing-for-free bit in general is starting to yield benefits. While I’m getting neither free drinks, sex or CDs, I am starting to get in on that other kind of action, the promo-copy book circuit. The webzine I assist with has so far resulted in three advance copies of books (one dud, one winner, one yet-to-arrive). And then this morning I got directly emailed by an author (whoa, baby!), offering book love on the apocalypse.
Which reminded me of a certain undergraduate incident I’ve failed to let you in on. You see, when I blogged about stripping before, that was sorta holding out on you. In that a) the stripping involved was rather nominal (though strenuous), and b) there was a more-colorful incident of actual, more-public stripping which I somehow failed to mention.
And it involved the apocalypse.
Rewinding a bit to college, as the nerd that I am I majored in religious studies (along with economics, which I mostly took for the math classes). Hey, if they’d had a program in something like sexology, I probably woulda switched. But alas, no such thing. In any case, one of the classes required for us REL-geeks was a majors-only seminar on an evolving list of topics. The semester I took it, we studied the dubiously described theme, “Millennialism and Apocalypticism in World Religions” ... roughly translated, “How kooks around the globe expect the planet to blow up.” Or something like that. Not that expecting the world to end equates to being an actual Crazy. But I digress.
So this class, despite its focus on the crazier of the Crazies who expect the world to end, was surprisingly dull. Academics, you see, have this tendency to take even the most interesting topic and turn it into something really, really boring. It’s like they view their careers as saving the world from sleeplessness, one lecture at a time. For instance, the sentence “Before she gave her name to high-end chocolate, Lady Godiva became famous for riding around on a horse while nekkid” would be translated thusly by a professor:
In advance of the 20th century noteriety that has accrued to the name “Godiva,” on account of the widespread manufacture and distribution of certain luxury sweets, there was in yesteryear a markedly different set of cultural associations with said name. This oft-forgotten history centers around a sort of legend or artifact of lore, if you will, whereby a denizen of a certain English community acquired fame for allegedly parading about the community without the advantages of pious attire - indeed, without the protections of socially condoned raiment at all. She would have it, of course, that the length and coverage of her hair provided sufficient coverage of the maidenly regions of her torso, however the residents of that town found her to be, in fact, undressed.How that relates to the apocalypse, I’m not sure, except that both Lady Godiva and I have stripped ... to some degree. Mine, however, was done as part of a class assignment. Oh yes.
Toward the end of that pre-Y2k semester (during which my friends and I had become so bored that one worked on guitar-chord tablature all period, and another coined what he thought were funny neologisms, such as “apocalypso”), the professor gave us an assignment. A group assignment. The class was divided up by sixes and sevens and instructed to construct our own “millennial groups” (read: cults), which we had to present and explain to the class in an oral presentation. The group had to have an origin story, a sacred text, a story of how the world would end, a ritual and so forth. One group, predictably, centered their cult around sex, another football. Sadly I missed both those venerable presentations.
Our group, however, had a little more moxy - balls, if you will. We decided to base our cult on the professor (cue punch-line cymbals). You see, like all good hippy-fied professors, he work a weekly uniform of tevas, jeans and a sweatshirt. A blue sweatshirt. And he cut his hair twice a year. We didn’t quite understand the rhythm to his toiletries, we just knew that one day when he showed up with shorter hair, it was quite a surprise - that is to say, a break from precedence. And it is very appropriate I state it that way, for “that is to say” is one of those Prof-isms he liked to use a lot. I know, because we kept tally.
It turned out all this covert sociological research during the times when we should have been taking notes provided rich material for constructing our cult. We decided the whole thing had to revolve around hair, hence history would be measured in follicles. Each significant period in history, then, would be associated with a person of famous hair (or lack thereof). And when the professor cut his hair - an event our entire class had witnessed - this constituted a sign of the world’s coming end. There were many other aspects to the cult I’ve since forgotten, but in order to do this brash thing well, we knew we had to do it all the way.
Our presentation thus became an act of high drama. We turned off all the lights in the classroom and marched in with flashlights, smacking our heads, chanting the spelling of the prof’s name, then “... is his name-o.” And so on. Our sacred text was called Book, had been discovered at the ASU bookstore, and consisted of several haiku we’d found on an internet website. But the real genius was the ritual component (if I do say myself), described and demonstrated by yours truly. We had gone totally into character for this presentation and sought to involve our classmates in the ongoing unfolding of this religious event. After all, they had already witnessed that portentious sign of the world’s imminent end, the professor’s haircut.
A later stage in the apocalypse, we had decided, involved all the students in our cult - that is to say, group - being transformed more fully into the likeness of Prof. Which is to say, taking on his wardrobe. Enter the ritual.
For this symbolic transformation, we had come upon the perfect ritual soundtrack. Despite my friend’s fond hopes that he had actually coined the word “apocalypso” (which we envisioned as the dance of the end times), it proved a Jimmy Buffett song had beat him to the punch. And a friend of ours had the CD. Keeping in mind our original use of the word, I constructed - or should I say, choreographed - a ritual dance performed to Buffett, in which I changed clothes from my normal student attire into an ensemble patterned on the professor’s tevas, jeans and sweatshirt. This did, of course, amount to the locker-room clothes-change but it was nonetheless an act of stripping. Which I performed in accompaniment to Buffett and the illumination only of a strobe light we’d set up to provide the room’s lighting during this moment of high drama.
We got an A, as I recall. For ASU, where anything goes in the classroom when you’re studying apocalyptics.
By the Buy returns!
The Naked Truth about Chastity
|Pocket Guide to the Apocalypse|
The Official Field Manual for the End of the World
Jimmy Buffett’s “Apocalypso”
The Sacred Revealed in Radiohead, the Simpsons, and Other Pop Culture Icons