Saturday, February 9, 2008


I'm so bored with this herniated disk problem. I'm bored with the pain, I'm bored with the treatment, I'm bored with lying around in my pajamas, I'm bored with the boring blog posts that have resulted from my extended convalescence. Last night, I was in too much pain to join Clara for dinner with a pair of Carleton trustees, so I stayed home and, in the depths of my boredom, watched television. I watched a show called Bones for the sole reason that it starred David Boreanaz; I watched House; I watched an unspeakably awful show called Numb3rs.

Numb3rs appears to be about a college math professor who helps his FBI agent brother solve murders. The murders (committed by a numerology-obsessed serial killer/tattoo artist who thought he was Jesus) were gruesome, but the worst thing about the show was the depiction of college professors. Hollywood college professors are all incredibly good-looking, like Andrea Roth (left), who played a professor of numerology (!) on last night's show (in a short skirt and lots of cleavage). Hollywood professors talk like textbooks and seldom say anything, even in casual conversation, that isn't related to their field. Hollywood professors have only to stand up in front of a large lecture class and spout the worst nonsense ever devised by Dan Brown to be considered brilliant and inspirational teachers. In The Da Vinci Code, Robert Langdon stands in front of his class at Harvard (where he's a professor of "religious symbology") and lectures in his rich baritone voice ("like chocolate for the ears") about Phi, and all the girls "beam at him." Dan Brown writes: "Even in the darkness, Langdon could see they were all astounded. He felt a familiar warmth inside. This is why he taught." I feel a familiar gag reflex inside.

On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the professors at UC Sunnydale share another personality trait: they're all mean. Several of them kick Buffy out of class, or single her out for ridicule in front of her classmates. The worst of the lot, Dr. Maggie Walsh, is not only mean, but she's assembling a demon in her private lab.

When Clara got home from her dinner with the college trustees, she quickly changed into a miniskirt so she could use her knowledge of Greek and Latin to help the FBI catch a serial killer. Such is the life of a college professor.


Mary Schier said...

Rob: Given your current level of discomfort, I hesitate to disagree with you, but Numb3rs is better than the show you saw last night.

I've been a fan since it started four years ago, and the episode you watched is the all time worst and an aberration from the usual episodes, which are less gruesome and silly than the average cop/CSI show. The reason I like the show is how it portrays college professors.

The women, of course, are generally hot babes with fabulous, if skimpy, wardrobes, and that's a bit much, but certainly no different than what Hollywood does to all women.

Despite the Hollywood hotness requirements, the college professors are all interesting, diverse people who have a depth of knowledge that the FBI guys need to solve crimes. Numb3rs makes being smart cool--always a good thing. The professors are also not just cops in tweed jackets. In a recent episode, Charlie, the main professor, was (for a lot of complicated reasons) being harassed by some bad guys who tried to drive him off the road. He reacted to the incident like a normal person would: shaking, cowering, generally freaked out. I like that not everyone is physically (and weirdly) brave in Numb3rs. I have been a bit surprised that the professors don't seem to teach much, but CalSci (the fictional university in the show) is supposedly a big research university, and some of the professors I've met from the U of M don't seem to teach much either. Numb3rs also had Kathy Najimy (not exactly a hot babe) as one of the math professors for several months last year, portraying a powerful woman at the university. It's not a perfect show, but it's better than the episode you saw.

Well, clearly, given the snow, the cold, the wind, and the length of this reply, you are not the only one who is bored. Hope you feel better soon.

Christopher Tassava said...

I knew it! All those grant-funded "research projects" are actually means to hector undergrads, commit heinous underworld-related acts, and/or fight evil. Thanks for FINALLY getting the word out.

(I hope you feel better soon.)

Jim H. said...

You go, brother!

Convalescence is a crashing bore, and trying to relieve it with television is (as you discovered), a "Lost" cause.

Nice picture, though...

Get well.

Shan said...

And apparently Hollywood college professors also have FANTASTIC hair!

It's February now, a new(ish) month, so I will wish for you what you wished for me back in December: that this month will be better than the last, meaning that it will bring real improvement in your terrible back condition. Best of luck.

kookiejar said...

I have nothing to add, but this made me laugh. I thought you should know. :)

New Poem: "Phrasebook"

My poem " Phrasebook " has been published online in Ergon: Greek/American Arts and Letters .