I can justify it to a certain extent by thinking of it as a sabbatical, but there's a part of me that believes I ought to have something to show for it (other than a pile of finished books, an empty Netflix queue, and a stack of completed video games). Lately I've been returning to the cities in film paper; it's something I have been meaning to do for years. But I need a more specific topic than "the depiction of cities in film" -- that's more like a doctoral dissertation than an article. One idea that comes to mind is the destruction of New York City in modern disaster films, particularly the movies of Roland Emmerich. The last time I researched this topic (for a bibliography in library school), I came across a great quote by Emmerich's sometime partner in crime, Dean Devlin, from a review of their Godzilla remake: "We destroyed a lot of New York in Independence Day, and once you get a taste for it, it's a very hard habit to break." It would even be timely, with the impending release of The Day After Tomorrow, yet another Emmerich sci-fi disaster flick that decimates Manhattan. There's a big downside to writing about these movies, though: I'd have to watch them. I have seen ID4, but I missed Godzilla on purpose and have no interest in seeing this new one either. I have been pleasently surprised by movies that I watched mostly for the depiction of a future city in the past (The Fifth Element for one -- I expected it to be silly, and it was, but it was also a great deal of fun), but I really don't think these films will qualify.
Anyway. I'll go back over my old notes, watch a few films. I'll think of something. Hopefully before I find a job and have to get back to the grind.