Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Dramatis Personae

First, let me say that this is a longish post. You may want to prepare a beverage or two, maybe a meal, prior to beginning to read this post. You have been warned.

Inspired by the Star Wars theme in the comments of a recent BlackDog post, here is how the character distribution would apply to my institution. Please note, the only references are to the original trilogy, Episodes IV, V, and VI (as TNT says about Law & Order, the original is always the best).

President – The Emperor. The fount of all power and evil at the College. Generally stays in the background, but will take direct action if the cause is worthy, i.e. the turning or destruction of Luke Skywalker.

Board of Trustees – The Imperial Senate. After the rise of the Emperor, the Senate became the ultimate figurehead. Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Vice President of Human Resources – Darth Vader. The muscle sent out to enforce the Emperor’s power. Will go to any extreme to impose the Emperor’s will. Secretly planning to overthrow the Emperor.

All other Vice Presidents and Directors – The Imperial Governors/Grand Moffs.
Administering their regions with an iron fist in the name of the Emperor. If necessary, and with extreme reluctance, will ask the Emperor to intervene, mostly because that means that Darth Vader will be sent in to lay the smack down. Fiercely jealous of their domains and of Vader’s power and proximity to the Emperor.

Deans and Directors that are lower than VP level – Bounty hunters in the Empire’s employ, i.e. Boba Fett and Bossk. Paid well by the Empire to hunt down and retrieve malcontents such as members of the Rebel Alliance. Always willing to move on if offered a higher paying job.

IT Staff – Crime lords such as Jabba the Hutt. Allowed to rule their minor fiefs with almost total autonomy, so long as they don’t gain the attention of the Empire, such as by allowing the Emperor’s or Darth Vader’s computers to run afoul of the various viruses that infect their computers after browsing intergalactic porn. Will maintain computers of those that perform services for them or of those that pay “protection”. All others be damned. (As was so eloquently stated in aforementioned comments, die IT, die.)

Remaining Classified Staff and Adjunct Faculty – Rank and file citizens and denizens of the Empire. Doing what they can in a corrupt system just to stay alive and put food (such as blue milk) on the table.

Full-Time Faculty – The Rebel Alliance. I might have said the Jedi Council, but for two reasons. One, as mentioned above, this is only referencing the original trilogy, and two, most full-time faculty on our campus would not be considered wise or skilled enough to be classified as Masters (maybe Jedi Knights; by the way, this is not intended as a slight) and are indignant enough with the Empire to attempt revolution. There are spies in the Alliance, attempting to undermine it by communicating troop deployments and strategies to the Empire, many times through bounty hunters. When found, instead of dishing out swift and gratuitous vengeance, Alliance members isolate the spies and feed them bad information, so that the Alliance may live to fight another day. When cornered by bounty hunters or, the Force forbid, Grand Moffs, Alliance members will resist all forms of interrogation. If Darth Vader is called in, all information at the root of the commotion is placed into the memory of a droid (an off-campus email inbox), for retrieval at a future time.

Pat from Peoria – Luke Skywalker, with qualities of Han Solo (not giving a shit about what others think about me and owing a lot of money) and Princess Leia (yes, my 6’3”, 255lb, former linebacker, former loosehead prop frame looks damn good in a bikini) thrown in for good measure. Rising from the obscure life of a moisture farmer in northern California (OK, not just moisture, but quality wines; by the way, Go Giants!), Skywalker goes from a tenure-track starfighter pilot eventually to a tenured, high-ranking position in the Alliance, the chair of a prestigious Academic Senate committee. Even with all of the attention the Empire pays to this committee, to the point of planning strategic attacks (of the ad hominem variety) to crush the Rebellion, invariably to no avail, the resistance lives on. I’m still trying to figure out how to get around the whole “Darth Vader is my father” thing, but I figure that Vader and the Emperor will eliminate each other before I truly need to worry about it. I’ll be around much longer than either of them.

Students – Stormtroopers. Nameless, faceless entities whose sole purpose is to cause pain and anguish, both physical and mental, to members of the Rebel Alliance. Common tactics include using their superior numbers to attempt to browbeat Alliance members into submission (“That’s not fair. It wasn’t on the test outline. You need to let us make up the test.”) and the ever-popular “I wasn’t following orders. In fact, I didn’t understand the orders.” Oddly enough, this does not warrant an immediate court-martial, but rather an ego stroke from the Grand Moffs, to which the Stormtroopers feel they are entitled. Furthermore, even though the Empire touts the skill and precision of the Stormtroopers and the quality of their equipment, they tend to scatter shots toward Alliance members, without result, and one well-placed shot will eliminate almost any Stormtrooper.

The Two Legendary Professors from my Department that Retired Just Before the Rise of Palpatine to Emperor – Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda. Tired of seeing the constant beatdown being administered (not an insignificant word choice) upon the soon-to-be Rebel Alliance, Kenobi and Yoda chose to retire, only making appearances to mentor Skywalker (I love these guys) and help thwart the Empire (Vader thinks he destroyed Obi-Wan, but he only made him stronger, especially in the eyes of the Alliance).

I could go on, but I’m tired. This ended up being three pages, double-spaced in MSWord. I know the instructions said five pages were required, but you need to consider the effort. If I don’t receive an A on this, I’m going to feel the need to hire one of the bounty hunters. This IS the essay you’re looking for.


  1. As an adjunct could I please have a more exciting part than putting blue milk on the table? Could I at least be a droid or something that participates in the rebellion and helps change the Universe? Couldn't I be a part that, like, makes important decisions and, and...and..... oh crappity, crap, crap, CRAP. I'm RANK. And FILE. Reality check.

    (*sniff* it's a ting of beauty)

  2. @ P and C

    Could be worse; you could be "Porkins", the large X-wing pilot (played by William Hootkins) who buys it when they try to blow up the first Death Star. The Intertubes made a god out of that guy...

    So who are the TIE fighter pilots - the football team?

    "University X.... you will never find no greater hive of scum and villany." - Noam "Obi Wan" Chomsky

  3. For those of you who don't know it, Firefly was a great little TV show that had amongst it's characters a mild psychopath and idiot named Jayne - dumb, greedy muscle. The actor who played Jayne asked the director (Wheadon) how he should play the character. Evil? Mean? What? Wheadon sensibly replied that Jayne thought he was the hero of the story, and should act accordingly.

    My wife and I have taken to calling this the 'Jayne principle': everyone thinks THEY are the hero.

  4. @Pat: "I know the instructions said five pages were required, but you need to consider the effort."

    Wonderful descriptions, but you did not meet the minimum syllabus requirements. You'll need to rewrite and repeat next semester.

    [However, from a former tighthead to a loosehead: great job!]

  5. By refusing to let me see Star Wars in 1976, my mother had no idea she would be locking me out of decades' worth of conversations.

  6. Here's someone for you to commiserate with:

    I want to be a Jedi so I can say "This is the easy short cut you were looking for." when I show them how to solve problems that can't be solved with shortcuts.

  7. Ewoks: Good students that make us want to keep teaching again.

    Sandpeople: Crazies in our class that make us think about quitting.

    Jawas: Book reps, trying to sell us the latest, greatest textbook which turns out to be the same piece of junk as the previous book.

    The trash compactor: Pretty good metaphor for the T&P process.

    Mos Eisley Cantina: An offline version of CM.

    C3PO: The campus lab safety officer - usually correct but really annoying and a stick in the mud.

    Cloud City: Research labs run by a prof who brings in so much grant money that he can do whatever he wants as long as he doesn't cause too much trouble.

  8. R2-D2: The geek who only talks in "Star Wars" quotes.

    Chewbacca: Mathsquatch.

    Jawas: (2.) The used bookstore clerks who sell the most thrashed copies of Johnson's "Leninism: a Diacritical Approach" you've ever seen.

    Carbon freeze: The game the college plays with the adjuncts at the end of each semester.

  9. As a recovering alcoholic and a professor who has had recovering alcoholics in her class... I've decided the Wookies are the drunk geniuses who came back with their GEDs in recovery and decided to go to college. Everyone is afraid of them, but they're helpful and competant.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.