Thursday, December 25, 2008

Holiday=eat

Happy Mom's Birthday, everybody. Hope yours was as foodful as mine. Here's a menu:

Spiced Christmas tea with Walker's shortbread
Delicacy Three Vegetables and rice with green tea, crunchy noodles, fortune cookie (hold the pineapple)
Spanakopita
Curried apple bisque with minted yogurt
Orange ginger bok choy
Stir-fried wild rice
REAL apple cider
Cointreau chocolate mousse cake with custard sauce
Homemade caramels

I think that's all, but my angry stomach is telling me that there was more that I crammed into it against its better judgment. Whatever, stomach; my tongue and I agree that it was worth it.

Sad to see you go, Eartha.

Monday, December 15, 2008

FINIS

5:00 PM on 15 December 2008.

The paper is turned in. The student grades are finalized. The plane ticket is printed. The birthday present for my mother is wrapped. All the remaining tasks are simple and pleasant: eat dinner, watch Star Trek: TNG with Z2 and the Mysterious X (and possibly the She God, if her grading allows), pack a few clothes, wash a few sheets, maybe make some muffins, maybe drink some whisky.

Head pressure is letting up. Shoulder tension remains. Hopefully the vacation will fix these things without adding too many other stresses. I have high hopes. I know for a fact that the people in NY whom I want to see are people who also want to see me. That makes all the difference.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Keep on truckin'

20 student papers remain. Of those, three are already graded in my head based on previous encounters with the students' work. That leaves 17 to grade, all of which can hopefully be graded during the final exam tomorrow. Huzzah!

My own work has been put on hold until the grading is done. I guess that means that tomorrow I'll be getting back to that...

EDITED: Done!! 9 AM and I have finished grading! Woohoo!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ender's End

I pretty much gave up on Orson Scott Card when he came out with Empire. I have never read a less pleasant political screed, and I've read several Terry Goodkind novels. It was just purely offensive crap, mixed with a couple of interesting sentences. Bah.

And now, two years later, I am giving up on him again. This time, it has to do not with his novels, but with his assertion that gay marriage is a sign of the end of democracy. Anti-sodomy laws should remain in force, he says. Gay Mormons need to feel that they are sinning; being comfortable with their own orientations is unacceptable. Check out this article, especially the title.

So now I have a problem. Card remains the only fiction author I've ever read who has created a character who speaks Old Church Slavonic. Speaker for the Dead is still a fascinating book, as is the rest of the Ender series (I admit I have not delved into the "Shadow" companion series). But the author of all of these ascribes to views I cannot condone.

Let me clarify: I don't have much of a problem reading works by conservatives. I read William Safire, ferchrissake. I do have a problem reading the writing of someone who considers me to be sinful by my very nature, and who demands that I give up my sexuality in every natural form in order to achieve grace.

I know I am not the only queer to read Ender. I know the queer sci fi community is rather larger than one might expect. Hell, reading sci fi at all is tantamount to being caught giving another boy a blowjob, in terms of elementary school social hierarchy (I do not, by the way, condone blowjobs for ten-year-olds). Queers-of-the-mind and queers-of-the-body need to stick together, especially for those of us who are both. In fact, full disclosure: as a child I masturbated to the cover art of Prentice Alvin. Too much information? Yeah, probably, but if he wants me to be ashamed of my orientation, this seems like a great way to push back.

So, I am choosing to engage in personal censorship. It won't have any effect on my day-to-day life, as I haven't read Card in years, but it will affect my rereading eventually. I want to reread these books (well, not Empire). And yet, I know that if I do, I will constantly be remembering that the mind that created these words has no use for me. Prentice Alvin would probably try to "heal" me, not reciprocate my affections.


Et tu, Ender?

Closer and closer

75 student papers left to grade! SO CLOSE!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

New Musicology



This is the fault of the New Musicology. We will now take all the credit for the slow but inevitable crumbling of the patriarchal cultural empire. You can thank us later.

Oh, and all of you Freemasons and Theosophists can now start preparing for even more complete societal irrelevance. Take that, Madame Blavatsky!

Monday, December 8, 2008

New York State of Mind

Yes. A Billy Joel quote. Deal with it.


In eight days I return to the fabulous Winter Wonderland known as the New York Metropolitan Area. There are three primary reasons why this is amazing, in ascending order of importance:

1. Weather. Dear God do I miss having actual weather. My fingers are starting to get chilly and immobile at temperatures upwards of 60 degrees Fahrenheit; this is unacceptable. I demand to see my breath, and not just when I stick my head in the freezer to figure out where the hell those strawberries went.

2. End of the quarter. This academic quarter, as noted elsewhere, is made entirely out of shit. Soon, it will be flushed. And followed with the mental, metaphorical equivalent of Drāno. After which, the toilet in which this process took place, along with all affiliated plumbing, will be removed to an undisclosed location, which will be carpet bombed.

3. People. Most of the people I have so desperately needed to see are in or around NY, or at least within hailing distance. People here are very nice, for the most part, but I have known them for less than 18 months, and that can't quite make up for years of accumulated familiarity. If you are in/around NY, or will be between 16 December and 2 January, please let me know. I want to see you. If you are also Jewish (or otherwise available), I want to eat Chinese food for lunch with you on Christmas Day.


Aside from the big three reasons, there are many small reasons. Free food, for one. Homemade candy. Corduroy pants, which are currently in deep storage in the parents' basement. Etc., etc., etc.


Before NY:

I have begun the Final Paper Grading Process. The number of papers remaining is smaller than 120 now, possibly smaller than 110 if the number of non-submissions is substantial. Details will not be posted, of course, but you are free to imagine what you will about the quality of writing.

Today I am going to grade another 25, I hope, and then go to tea and walk along the beach with The Mysterious X, Violesbian, and 'Nald. After tea, we will be returning home to experience one, two, or all of the following: Zardoz, FART: the movie, and that perennial seasonal favorite, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. Gris, Z2, and the She God of Shark Reef will be joining us, as will Glen Moray, a new addition to my whisky collection, courtesy of Z2. This looks to be a good day.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Meme time

So I've been meme-tagged, and I need to pass it along. The rules request that I link to the various blogs of my friends and acquaintances and ask them to link back here, but in the interests of preserving the shreds of my anonymity, I will refrain.

However,


The rules:

1. Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog.

2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog - some random, some weird.


3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.


4. Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blogs.


5. If you don’t have 7 blog friends, or if someone else already took dibs, then tag some unsuspecting strangers.


7 facts about me:


A. I have undergone eye surgery three times, the most recent being ten years ago. Each time, I cried blood for a while afterward.

B. I am astonishingly good at Tetris, due to a complete lack of social skills in elementary school.

C. I have an extremely sensitive stomach, but I like food so much that I don't care. I therefore get frequent horrible stomach aches.

D. I am much more willing to do things if I feel someone else will be upset with me if the things remain undone. Left to my own devices, I laze.

E. I have a near-pathological fear of roller coasters and all other high-speed conveyances, because I am a control freak at heart and those are not controlled by me. I don't trust them not to kill me.

F. I despise the sound of my own voice, but I adore singing.

G. My personality and tastes change drastically depending on my surroundings. Especially if I find you attractive, I will usually adapt to your preferences and pastimes. I don't see this as dishonest; my desires actually do change to blend better with my companions. I do see it as a problem sometimes.


Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to duplicate this meme on your own internet diaries: Rainbow Brite, Trousers, une pipe, Gris...oh, anybody who reads this. Please don't link back here though; I want to keep snooping undergraduates from having any way into my sanctum sanctorum.

Also, in case you were wondering, things ain't so hot right now. I may post on this at some point, or I may not, but I could use some happy thoughts coming my way. Or some happy whisky.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Anger management

Today I want to punch things.

No, not things--people.

No, not people--person.

Unfortunately I will instead be attempting to turn this impulse into witty prose. I imagine I will cross the line from witty into bitingly sarcastic rather quickly, followed immediately by a descent into witheringly acerbic. My goal is to remain in that zone, instead of ending up in embarrassingly self-involved.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Almost

The quarter from hell is nearing its end. What still remains:

Monday: Writing workshop for one seminar, going over everyone's draft final papers; guest lecture series funding meeting(s)
Tuesday: Final guest lecturer, hopefully attended by at least 10 people
Wednesday: Last history of rock class and office hours!
Thursday: Present final paper for other seminar
Friday through the 14th: edit first seminar paper, grade approximately 132 final History of Rock papers, drink heavily and often

So fucking close to the end of this disaster. Can't wait for next year to start so I can forget some choice details of this one.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

My least favorite person

Right now, my least favorite person in the world is Rubén Díaz Sr., state senator of New York from the Bronx. Why, you may well ask, is such a minor politician so important? Oh, just because. The man is so very homophobic that he is willing to throw out the Democratic state senate majority in order to prevent gays from getting married. The Democrats haven't controlled the state senate in about forty years, but hey, that victory ain't worth shit if the scary gays start marrying and reproducing and taking over!

Oh, wait. Skip that middle bit.

Now here comes the fun part of Rubén Díaz Sr. He, along with three other assholes, claimed that he was breaking from the party to protest a lack of Latino leadership. A worthy cause to champion, I feel, if only he didn't (a) use it as a cheap disguise for his homophobia and (b) argue for more Latino leadership by claiming that there are too many black people in power! Are you fucking serious!? Check it out.

This man makes me sick. He has obviously never used the word "movement" in any kind of meaningful way in his life. He is totally fine with oppression, as long as it isn't oppressing him. He is a racist, and a homophobe, and I'll bet you ten dollars he pretends that God told him to be this way. Asshole.

Friday, November 28, 2008

My Golden Calf

My Bea Arthur paper is coming along nicely, I think, thanks entirely to YouTube.com. I am an acolyte of YouTube, a worshiper at its digital feet. Why? Several reasons:

1. This
2. That
3. The other
4. Oh, and this too
5. Plus also this

In the interview (#5 on the list), which I have only begun to watch, she admits that she used to do Mae West impressions as a child. This woman just makes it harder and harder for me to keep this paper limited to 15 pages!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Money for nothing

So I'm running this guest lecture series for my department. We have about four speakers per quarter, adding up to twelve-ish for the year. That means that every two weeks or so, we have a guest speaker come in to give a talk on some music-related topic and to eat and socialize with the students and faculty who come to hear the talk. It's a fun thing, and it gets prestigious folks here to share their ideas.

And it's a royal pain in the ass.

I worked my butt off this summer to get things settled in advance, and I managed to democratically come up with a lineup before the school year started, a fairly major achievement of organization and cat-herding. Then, a month before the start of the school year, I contacted the man in charge of the $30 million we just got from Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. To cut the story short, I heard two and a half months later that somehow none of that money was available for funding our guest speakers. This after being assured all along that funding would be no problem. Great. Time to find more monies.

The primary source of funding for this series has, in the past, been a morass called the Campus Programs Committee. The problem with this source of funding is that it specifically prohibits the funding of series. So we lie. Lying is not the really annoying part, though. The annoying part is that because they don't fund series, I have to apply again and again and again and again for their money, presenting each speaker as a totally-unrelated event. And on top of that, they will not fund anything that receives any money from anywhere else. Meaning that I have to also lie about other funding or rely on them for every dollar. They don't have that many dollars.

Okay, so we look for other sources. A talk on the history of hip-hop? Let's ask African American Studies! No answer. Let's ask the magical 20th-century music fund that I didn't know existed until very recently. Yes! Money! Until it vanishes after the talk has happened because the committee (boy do I love committees!) didn't bother to actually read the application when it was submitted.

Respite comes in the form of speaker number three, who is on faculty here and therefore cannot get paid to speak. And lives here already, so no airfare. Whew! Time to breathe and write my own papers! Until I realize today that it is too late to apply for the funding I was counting on for the speakers on February 3rd. Yes, today is the 25th of November, and it is too late to fund major events before February 11th through the Campus Programs Committee. Great! It's also too late to fund minor events that take place on January 13th, our first speaker of next quarter.

So here I am, with a roster of fabulous speakers and an amazing team to help me run the actual talks, and the funding sources are vanishing, one by one. Sure, there are other ones. I can apply for $800 from the Graduate Students Association, once per quarter. That takes care of maybe one speaker. I could talk to other departments about co-sponsoring...if only my speakers knew what they want to talk about! Oh, and what visa do Canadians need to get to speak here for one day? Any ideas? I think I need to do that right now for February 3rd, assuming that we can pay them anything at all.

And my first final paper (a draft, thank god) is due Friday, and I haven't started. And my second is due next Thursday, and I don't even have a topic. And my shoulders are a mass of muscle that would be pleasant if its hardness came from exercise instead of severe tension.

If the series had actual series funding, I could maybe pay more attention to publicity, accommodations, food, and the other things that make the talks fun. Oh, and my own work. Instead, I stress about disappearing money and rely on the bottomless wallet of a man whose good opinion I value highly. Bah. Previous organizers of the series have managed to get by on this shaky framework; why have I been unable to keep track of the deadlines? They're only a month and a half in advance of the dates. That should be easy to remember. But I instead watch movies like The Wild World of Bat Woman and read plagiarized student papers and obsess over boys who don't even know I exist. This is a healthy lifestyle.

If anyone at this University has ideas about other funding sources, I'd love to hear them. Right now I need to finish a final paper and a funding application by this weekend. Joy.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Economic conflict?

Obama names economic team:

Timothy Geithner, Secretary of the Treasury
Lawrence Summers, Director of National Economic Council
Christina Romer, Head of the White House Council of Economic Advisors
Melody Barnes, Director of the Domestic Policy Council
Heather Higginbottom, Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council

Summers may not be happy--three of those people are WOMEN! I hear they can't do math.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Jukebox meme

OK, so I gave in to this oh-so-fun meme. This is something I can do without turning my head. Here are the first lines of 30 songs from iTunes on random, for you to guess titles and artists. A few notes first:

1. The random didn't seem to be that random. Songs often came in oddly matched pairs.
2. A surprising number of them include the title in the first line.
3. The performer is almost never going to be the person you expect it to be.
4. At least one of the performers gets the words wrong, marked [sic.] in my list. This is what comes of the English trying to sing German. Hinted!

1. These lush moments, how I adore
2. I must say these tropical days have been quite restful
3. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia
4. Ave spes nostra
5. I love the time and in between the calm inside me and the space where I can breathe
6. When the sun sinks in the west
7. The elephant trunk and Democrat donkey will be down the drain and sunk
8. Paree, he’s like a lover
9. What if I came down now?
10. Smile, smile, smile, that’s all you do
11. Something bad is happening (guessed by Otter on LiveJournal)
12. Some people got it, and make it pay
13. Pobedichom, pobedichom, posramichom
14. Nanina…[unintelligible mess of Georgian]
15. You must treat your lover girl right
16. If I tell truths to you, my love, my own
17. Ah, you’re wonderful, you’re all that I’ve yearned for
18. Pistol shots, gun shots (guessed by Gris on LiveJournal)
19. Says Red Molly to James, that’s a fine motorbike (Guessed by Otter on LiveJournal)
20. Oh, tinozza ambulante!
21. O ihr Herren, o ihr werten
22. Schön lie [sic.] Engel voll Walhallas Wonne
23. Sicut erat in principio
24. Sani e salve agli amplessi amorosi
25. Sold a hammer to the Pentagon
26. Victoria dines alone, she skips the potatoes

27. Guido, I was lazing around my bedroom
28. Amor volat undique
29. Coulda been a writer, shoulda been a novelist (guessed by DQ on LiveJournal)
30. And I followed her to the station (guessed by Z2 on LiveJournal)

Pain in the neck

For the last few days, I've been feeling pretty good. Never bursting into tears (Well, hardly ever), getting work done, seeing people, all that stuff. I didn't really think I was suddenly doing fine, but I figured I was on the mend.

Then I discovered that the reason I feel okay mentally is because I've decided (unconsciously) to store all of my frustration physically in my neck and shoulders. And they do not like it. My neck has gone on strike this morning, and I fear the shoulders will be next to go. If I don't turn and wave as you pass by, that may be because my neck has opted for a strict policy of no swiveling. Or maybe I just don't like you.

But probably it's the neck.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What's missing and what's not

There are two things missing from my life this year. Okay; that's a lie. There are far more than two things missing, but there are two I wish to discuss right now.

The first is singing. I haven't sung with other people since...last winter? Really? It wears on me, after a while, to not be singing. It's something that I absolutely need to do, and I haven't had a regular singing experience, a weekly or biweekly or monthly or predictable-in-any-way singing experience since a year ago last July, when I left Rhode Island. It sucks. The Providence Singers are a beautiful group of people that I still adore, despite their various flaws, and I would like to find something like them here. Choral singing gives me a sense of shared purpose that few other activities can match.

The second is acting. Specifically, playing old men. That's my specialty, you know. Since high school I've been playing old men with surprising regularity. I'm damn good at playing old men. Someday I'll do a King Lear that'll blow your fucking mind. But right now, nothing. I desperately miss having the chance, every once in a while, to get out of my skin and into the wrinkled latex, grey hair, and age makeup that simulate decrepitude, that justify crankiness and irascibility, that remove any and all obligation to look good or to attract men. Age makeup, to me, is one of the most freeing attires there is. I know; I'm weird.

There is one thing that is not missing from my life anymore. That's a caring community, of a sort that I missed much of last year. Now I have two of them. My department, which has always been awesome, is evolving for me into a sort of a family, as long as I close my eyes and ears sometimes. And the No on 8 campaign, despite having seemed to be a time-limited operation, has really stepped up to try to be a community as well, especially after the election. With, of course, some notable exceptions, but en masse they have been fabulous.

Sadly, this blag is now to become something that will be missing from my life in a sense. As I noted in my earlier post(s) today, there are things I will no longer be discussing here. Despite my efforts at anonymity, a student found this site and was upset by it, and that's not okay. I will be censoring myself more than I have in the past, and that saddens me. I had intended this as a place for openness (anonymous openness, but openness nonetheless), but it is important that I maintain a professional attitude where my students are concerned. I care about them too much, all 132 of them, to risk making them feel shitty without reason. And I care about myself too much, all 1 of me, to risk making myself feel shitty. That's why the romance is to be taboo--talking about it here just makes me think that it could somehow work out, and that's clearly a foolhardy notion to adopt.

To those of you who have contacted me and received no reply, I'm sorry. I don't have the energy right now. Nor do I have the minutes; the No on 8 campaign took all of them and more, and my phone bill is likely to pass $200.00 this month. Luckily the month ends tomorrow, so that particular excuse will be gone, but the lack of energy holds. I will recover soon, and I will call/email/text/Skype you back, but for now I just need to go to my freshly made bed and collapse for a day or two. Too bad I need to be back at school by 8:45 AM tomorrow.

And then on my way to bed I spilled water all over it and myself. A perfect end to a perfect day.

Bloggity blog blog blog

Things I am not posting here anymore:

1. Anecdotes about my students

2. Anything at all about my romantic life

3. Words that contain the letter combination "lphth"


Things I will continue to post here:

1. Bad sci-fi movie reviews

2. News about my unromantic daily life

3. Words that contain the letter combination "ookkee"

And with that, bookkeeper.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Career thoughts

It's been a rough semester for me, as many of my friends and acquaintances are aware. I have been thinking seriously of taking a leave from graduate school to do more important political work. I have been thinking seriously about not leaving graduate school, but pursuing a different career path, a very undefined one that can best be described as "not a professor." I have been thinking seriously about curling up in a ball on the couch and sobbing for the rest of my life. I have been thinking many thinks.

And then today I started working on my lecture for the History of Rock class. My lecture on rock musicals. My lecture that has absolutely no curricular guidelines and is entirely up to me in every detail. And I love it. Love it, love it, love it.

I get to write my own narrative of rock musicals! I get to make categories and pick shows that are important enough to include, and find funny pictures on the internet to stick into my PowerPoint presentation. I get to learn how to use PowerPoint, which I have apparently been able to avoid for the last 25 years.

Here's my scheme so far:

1960s: Roots of the Rock Musical, touching on Bye Bye Birdie and (briefly) Hair. I get to mostly ignore Hair because an adorable student is putting together a website for extra credit and is dealing with it there.

1970s: Black Popular Music on the Great White Way: Gospel and Soul Musicals, Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope, The Wiz, and Working, getting to ignore Grease and Jesus Christ Superstar because of the website.

1980s: Isn't it Queer? Camp Musicals (not sure about that designation yet), Dreamgirls, Little Shop of Horrors, and Chess

1990s: [Insert clever title], Tommy, Capeman and Hedwig, skipping Rent because of the website.

2000s: Jukeboxes on stage, probably talking about Mamma Mia!, Movin' Out and Jersey Boys.

Epilogue: Whither rock musicals? Spring Awakening, In the Heights, Passing Strange, and just maybe this.

Why does this excite me? It's a total rewrite of the recent history of the musical, emphasizing the people of color and queer contributions, not just the standard white Jew narrative. Yes, "gays are into musicals" is not a new story, I know, but queer is very different from gay, something I probably won't have time to get into in the lecture, but something that I need to emphasize in my choices. Plus I get to trash some popular shows, like Spring Awakening, and praise the golden voice of Lynne Thigpen.

I'm thinking that maybe this is a good job for me. We'll see how things go on Monday.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

WTF?

Giles, you have let me down.

Tonight, The Mysterious X and I went to see a film called Repo: The Genetic Opera! What a disappointment! I expected marvels from Anthony Stewart Head, but the man can only work with the material he is given, and he was not given a damn thing to work with. Not a shred of good material.

Once, I mentioned the abysmal lyric writing of one Richard Rodgers. Okay, more than once, but once I devoted a post to it. Darren Smith and Terrance Zdunich, composers and lyricists for Repo, leave ol' Dick in the dust, as far as worthless lyrics go. Their idea seems to have been that ordinary speech can simply be set to music. That's "authentic," that's more "real" than some phony "musical" with "lyrics." Did you see all those sarcastic quotation marks? The result was cringe-worthy to the max, more so than the gout of fake blood and piles of squishy human organs.

I'm not going to get into the plot of the movie, which was oddly fascinating, as I believe any favorable description would detract from the sheer horror of the lyrics and the acting. Tony Head was great, as was (oddly) Sarah Brightman, but the rest of the cast was utterly unbelievable and painful to watch. Including, but not especially, Paris Hilton. Especially Bill Moseley. Man, what a lousy performance.

Here is the redeeming bit: it may have been intended to be this bad. I don't think this level of shittiness can be an accident. However, I did not have the appropriate mindset to be able to appreciate this film through that lens. Perhaps once I've licked my wounds and my faith in Giles is restored (possibly by means of Band Candy), I will be able to enjoy Repo as it was intended to be viewed. We shall see.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

So many posts!

I post again, simply to point you towards this. Hooray for Nate Silver, as usual.

New blog

I have added a new one to my blagosphere: Center of Gravitas. I've only dropped in on it a couple of times, but they've been rewarding visits. Here, for example, is GayProf's take on the incredibly frustrating post-Prop-8 racism:

Moreover, I think that queer rights organizations need to be involved in bigger fights for economic and social justice. We ask other groups to join with us, but when was the last time a group like HRC campaigned for an issue facing the UFW?


Now there's a suggestion I haven't heard from any of the other angry queers currently storming the fortresses of the patriarchy. Fight not just for ourselves but for other oppressed people!? WHAT!? Many times have I heard the vague "reach out to people of color" advice, but here is a concrete way to do that, a way that may actually have an effect. Fabulous!

I am cross-posting this at my currently-empty LiveJournal, just to see if that generates some readership for this blag. If you're reading this at LJ, you won't see the Blagosphere sidebar or any of the posts leading up to this, so click on over to Brain Vomit and see what I'm talking about.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Toxic

There is a song that you may have heard. Performed by one Britney Spears, it is called "Toxic," and it is popular among certain crowds. I hate it.

On the evening of Wednesday, 5 November 2008, I was sitting in a little bar called Fiesta Cantina, located just east of the corner of Santa Monica and San Vicente. "Toxic" came on the jukebox, and things crystallized for me. "Toxic" represents, to me, a vast swath of the homosexual population with which I want nothing to do. These particular young, white, male homosexuals (I generalize, but it's fairly accurate) are interested in nothing but themselves. They are the stereotypical queens, the ones who get the rest of us dismissed as inconsequential and shallow. I have been a defender of these queens in the past, at least in my head, as I understand the value of surfaces and the need to care deeply about oneself when society seems to be telling you that you're not worth it. I really do understand this mentality, and I sympathize.

However. This is a population that we could not mobilize before election day. This is the group I tried to engage, week after week, only to be ignored because the dance floor was calling. This is the group that woke up, in part, on that Wednesday, and got angry. Too. Fucking. Late. Where the hell were they on Tuesday? Where the hell were they before Tuesday? What was so important every Thursday night and Saturday night when I stood out on the street for hours trying to get them to give some time and they walked on by--hoping to get into the bars before the cover charge went up?

These toxic queers make me incredibly angry. As I sat in Fiesta Cantina on Wednesday, surrounded by the bitter, depressed people who had worked so hard and come so close to victory without the help of the toxics, I decided that I was done with them. I am done with the pleasure-seekers and the party animals. I am done with the barflies and even more done with the Sunday brunchers. A subspecies of the toxic queens, the Sunday brunchers are older (still white and male), largely past their toxic days, and their self-involvement centers on food instead of dance. I am dangerously close to being one of them myself, which is why I make this declaration here. I. Am. Done.

If you pointedly ignored my polite approaches for weeks leading up to the election, you have no right to join me in the streets now. I will not turn you away (how could I?), as we need all the bodies we can get to make some noise, but there is no solidarity there. You didn't get it last week; you didn't believe me every time I told you that it would be decided by one percent of voters. And now we all pay the price for your self-centered complacency.

Too many good people sacrificed too much for this cause. How dare you cheapen it with your Johnny-come-lately symbolic activism. You are the toxin the queer community needs to purge.


(OK, I know this is harsh. This is my catharsis. I need this outlet now, though I'm sure I'll mellow soon. Right now, my mood is pretty damn toxic too.)

Waking up

It has been about seven years since my last post. Or perhaps only three days. I can't quite wrap my head around the time elapsed. I am still not ready to blog the election and its aftermath. It will happen, I'm sure, but not yet.

Instead, some of everyday life. I had forgotten about everyday life, but it continues. Right now it continues mainly in the form of grading, grading, grading. Yesterday, I spent most of the day in tears, for various reasons, and the grading did not help. Today I woke up feeling healthier and happier (largely thanks to some key conversations with Trousers, The Mysterious X, Z2, and some others whose code names I have forgotten), and the grading seems less daunting. In fact, I just hit a run of SIX AWESOME PAPERS IN A ROW!! This is an amazing thing. My previous high was three in a row. What makes it even better is that only two of those six had first assignments that were at all decent. That means the other four improved between 10 and 20 points over the course of a week or so. Good for them.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Dead

I do not have the energy to appropriately deal with the events of yesterday. Stories will follow, but not yet. Here is one piece of bright news among the heaps of garbage: Milkshake introduced me to someone last night as his boyfriend. If my heart had not already been leaping wildly due to the election returns coming in, it would have leapt wildly at that choice word, which has never been applied to me before. To clarify: leaping is not necessarily a good thing (see "election returns coming in"), but it would have been a good leap for that particular tidbit.

Now to drag my carcass out of bed and back to work. Let's see if it still functions as human; 52% of Californians say it isn't.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The last ditch


If you read this blog, there is no way you need this reminder. However:

VOTE NO ON 8 TODAY

If you are LA-based, please come by the West Hollywood Dispatch Center, located at 7304 1/4 Santa Monica Boulevard. I will be there from about 5:30 AM until at least 9:00 PM. We can always, always use more volunteers, and I can train you there how to be the most efficient cog meshed into our campaign existence.

If you are not LA-based, please do whatever approximates praying for you, and please (Californians) get out in the streets with our signs and our stickers and let people know the truth! This is going to come down to just a few votes, and each person who sees our sign is one more person who understands that there are two positions here: hateful bigot or decent human being. End of story.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Whoops

It is 1:00 AM. I have just realized that I am booked solid from 7:30 AM until 12:00 AM tomorrow. This will indeed suck.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The News!

Sometimes, when elections are looming, earthquakes are killing people, and students have been demonstrating their ability to ignore the simplest instructions, you need a little of this to brighten your evening.

Hilarious.

Sharing is fun!

I discovered today that my internet exploits are being shared with a certain body of undergraduates at an institution of higher education that I fondly recall. Well, if y'all want to listen to these ramblings, you are more than welcome to them! Here's a tidbit that excites me: today I shared a milkshake with an adorable gentleman to whom I have alluded in recent posts. For some reason, I forgot the word milkshake for several hours thereafter and couldn't figure out why "ice cream shake" sounded unnecessarily awkward and inaccurate. This linguistic limitation passed, however, and the word I am now futilely seeking is an appropriate secret code name for the gentleman in question. Those who have met him are welcome to propose options.

I believe that my personal "worst movie of all time" has been supplanted. I can't even recall what it was, but it has been replaced by Death Bed: The Bed That Eats. A gem of a catastrophe, Death Bed sparkles with gratuitous female nudity, yellow foam repeatedly erupting from an innocuous-though-disastrously-70s four-poster bed, fake blood that resembles red paint to a startling degree, and an inexplicable consumptive ghost narrator who lives in a painting and steals gaudy jewelry from the dead. Plus there's a scene where a woman's head gets sawed off with the chain of her crucifix. It makes less sense than I am conveying. The highlight may have been a character who--The Mysterious X and I agreed--looked just like whats her face.

Tomorrow is an important day, so I must now to bed. In 5.5 hours I will be out on the street, holding up No on 8 signs to make sure well-intentioned people don't turn into complete morons in a week. Then I have the first lecture in the guest lecture series I'm organizing. Between those I may be seeing the aforementioned gentleman. Or after those. Or both. I am more excited about this than perhaps I should be, but dammit I deserve this excitement. I shared a milkshake!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Journal

Dear Internet Diary,

How am I supposed to pay attention to my schoolwork? There are too many other things going on! In order of importance (least to most):

1. Students. They have an assignment due tomorrow. They are freaking out. They are legion. They are emailing me non-stop.

2. No on 8. Every moment of every day we are working to protect marriage equality. And yet, some people who claim to be supportive are completely unwilling to spend 30 seconds just talking about it. Last night, while out recruiting volunteers for Election Day, I actually heard the excuse, "I can't take any time off work; I'm in sales!" Self-important jackass.

3. A boy. Most important of all: A boy who likes me and whom I like. I can barely pay attention to any of these other things.

Internet Diary, will you make my professors cancel all of my classes so I can get other stuff done? It'll only take a week or so. Then they can slowly get started again, maybe without all the reading and the writing. That's all I'm asking for.

Sincerely,
Me

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Rumblings in the interior

There may or may not be big news of a personal nature in the offing. Let us see what tomorrow brings. Not necessarily tomorrow in the literal sense; tomorrow may refer to any time in the not-too-distant future.

I leave you with this: a sugar glider!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Nostalgia

I hadn't thought of Bruce Coville, one of my all-time favorite kids' book authors in a long time. Then I got an email from 'Nald with this link: Bruce Coville Interview. As the interviewer says, he's just as cool now as I thought when I was eight.

The series featured in the interview may have been my first literary experience of social commentary. Plus, they're about ALIENS! And TEACHERS! Two of the awesomest/scariest things out there. If you have the mind of a child or the ability to recall what that was like, I endorse you reading these books. Plus most of the rest of his oeuvre.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"Good" News

"The good news is, you backed everything up three weeks ago."

Thus spake the Apple Store "Genius" and thus ended the life of Shevek II, my noble hard drive.

Cross your fingers that the course webpage for History of Rock does not spontaneously combust in the next few days, or all 128 of my graded papers will need to be re-graded.

Banking schmanking

Most of the country is experiencing all sorts of financial catastrophe. I am not, a fact for which I am extremely grateful. However, I am experiencing once more the supreme pinnacle of incompetence embodied by the particular branch of Bank of America located near my apartment.

Examples:

1. When I moved to the great state of California, I was required to close my accounts in Rhode Island and open new ones here. This was not BofA's fault; it is a requirement for establishing residency. What WAS their fault was the fact that in the process of transferring my money from one branch to another, they managed to charge me over $100.00 in overdraft fees. Or overdraught fees, if I'm feeling British. Thanks to the always-friendly, always-competent BofA branch on Angell St., Providence, RI, I was able to recover this money.

2. During this initial transaction, I was assured that my old accounts were being closed. This was the sole purpose of the transaction, after all. One month later, I received another overdraught fee from the "closed" account. Again, RIBofA managed to recover my money.

3. I asked for a BofA credit card, at the instigation of the banker who "helped" me set up my new accounts. Today, 14 months and 3 days later, I have seen no sign of this credit card.

4. Apparently, unbeknownst to me, I had too much money when I opened the accounts. They automatically signed me up for a "VIP" account, which resulted in their placing a minimum balance requirement on my accounts, a balance I recently dipped below because of the four-month gap between my paychecks. Surprise! Another $20.00 fee for having too little money. Yes, that's right. They charge you money for not having enough money.

5. In an attempt to recover this fee (and to have it explained, as I knew not whence it came), I went back to my least favorite branch of BofA. It's at the end of my block and Im lazy; sue me. I was informed that I had gone below my minimum balance ($10,000.00 between checking and savings, an astronomical amount to require) and that I would need to open a different type of checking account. I did so. However, to recover the fee I would need to call customer service, as the banker currently servicing me, the customer, was apparently not part of that department. I departed in a snit but with a shiny new bank account and a promise of a four-month grace period on the old account before I would have to get a new ATM card, close the account, and figure out the hellish details of changing over all of my automatic debits (gas, electric, internet, phone, LA homeless shelter, gym, and who knows what else).

6. Today I contacted customer service. The friendly but harried representative on the phone immediately reversed the fee and informed me that it would be much easier for me to just change the type of the account I already had instead of opening a new one. I would get to keep my ATM card, not have to redo all of my auto-debits, and as long as I had direct deposit set up, I wouldn't have to pay any monthly fee. Unlike under the plan I had set up with the banker at my branch, which would actually still charge me $20.00 per month for that four month "grace period." Leading me to question what on earth that "grace period" was doing for me.

7. Because my new account is listed as "recently opened," the helpful representative was unable to close it and transfer my $25.00 (minimum required amount to open a new checking account) back into my original checking account. I need to do that at my local branch. I shudder at the thought of the fortitude that would require of me. Therefore, I plan instead to simply wait until that account is no longer "recently opened," and call the same woman I spoke to today.


To sum up: I have no issues with BofA as a whole, as it seems not to be on the verge of sudden complete collapse. I have many, many issues with the wholly useless bankers who work at my local branch. If the woman on the phone had been less helpful, I would have withdrawn all of my money today and taken it to Wells Fargo, the happy (and solvent!) bank with the ponies in its logo. For now, however, BofA is experiencing a grace period. They are in my good graces for now, but they are teetering on the brink of incurring my everlasting wrath. Consider yourself warned, Bank of America. If you choose not to read this warning, I will charge you $30.00 per month until you notice.

Plus my computer died yesterday. Apparently it didn't like me searching for "Bea Arthur" on jstor. In an hour I will leave for my appointment at the Apple store and see what's going on. Wish me luck; I haven't backed up anything in three weeks.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pedagogy III

A public service announcement:

Heroine: A woman distinguished by exalted courage, fortitude, or noble achievements.

Heroin: A white crystalline alkaloid prepared from morphine by acetylation, which is illictly used as a powerful and addictive drug producing intense euphoric sensations.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Morsel for thought

"'W.' is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). The film has some extremely graphic images of real war and some expletives."

In what context are "extremely graphic images of real war" somehow comparable to "expletives"? Puritan America rides again...

Pedagogy II

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Family Matters

Siblings, I missed many of you keenly this weekend. For those of you who trooped off to a mysterious event of which I dare not speak on these public internets, I hope it was everything it always was for me. For those of you who trooped here to LA for a non-mysterious weekend of delight and ice cream, I had a fantastic time. Even though I was struck mute by the last gasp of this unpleasant disease, I still loved seeing y'all.


Congratulations to DQ, who leaves the ranks of the unemployed this week, and also to the Moron and 'Nald, who join said ranks. I hope your various altered employment stati do well by you.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Huzzah!

Reasons why today is wonderful:

1. I took magic Canadian medicine last night, and my head feels amazingly light and unsqueezed this morning.

2. The projected high temperature is finally seasonable: 70 degrees! I'm in such a good mood that I will even deign to translate that into furriner: 21 pitiful metric degrees.

3. Several important people (and one mildly important dog) are coming to visit tonight from the metropolis to the north.

4. I ate a meal last night and didn't feel grossly bloated!

5. Connecticut rocks!


A few details now on point number 1. Magic Canadian medicine is weird. It combines Tylenol, a decongestant, vitamin C, and some other stuff in a powdered drink that approximates hot lemonade. Apparently, the standard effect of this cocktail is a sudden lack of both symptoms and consciousness. For me, the symptoms faded but the consciousness multiplied sevenfold--I felt more awake than I had since about Sunday. I went to sleep around 11:30, woke up at about 3:30, explored the internet for three hours while vigorously kicking my feet to expend some of my newfound energy, then napped again from 6:something until 9:something. I should by no means be perky and energetic now, but I am. Conclusion: magic Canadian medicine is MAGIC.

Or has buckets of caffeine.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Whining

Today marks my fourth day of sickness. Monday afternoon, I suddenly felt ill in class. Tuesday I spent the entire day in bed. Yesterday I went to school in the morning to TA and hold office hours, then ducked out of the 6 hours of campaign work I had signed up for in order to spend the rest of the day on the couch, wallowing. I did drag myself out to go to birthday dinner for Z2 and Absinthe, which was a bad idea. I ate soup, and couldn't finish it. Because apparently sick now equals loss of appetite. Since I started feeling unwell on Monday, I have eaten two pieces of toast, two small bowls of soup, and a couple handfuls of nuts and dried fruit. All of these were out of a sense of obligation, because eating is good for you.

Today I am abandoning Mrs. Crash to present on Schopenhauer alone, for which I feel guilty. This is on top of backing out of something like twelve hours of campaigning for no on 8 so far this week. Being sick always makes me feel like a shitty person. I know that this is silly, but I spent too much of elementary school pretending to be sick when I wasn't, and now I feel like I'm lying every time I get actually sick.

I'm crossing my fingers that this whatever-it-is clears up before the weekend; I have plans to have fun with friends and I do NOT want to be sick for them.

/whine

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

My new home

I have a new home on the internet. I now reside at 538, a fabulous, fabulous polling site. I've been known to do some math in my day (no scoffing, now), and 538 fills that arithmetical hole in my life with amazing, wonderful numbers. Supposedly, their model is ridiculously more accurate than any other predictive methods. The internet told me this, so it must be true. The model even predicted that the White Sox would win their division; that's damn good.

This evening, 538 made me even happier than it usually does. Why? Because it's currently predicting 343.8 electoral votes for Obama, 194.2 for McCain. Because North Carolina, Indiana, and Missouri all just jumped into the Obama column. Because it's even vaguely possible that GEORGIA and part of NEBRASKA will go Obama. WTF!?

I don't have the math background to know if these polls are accurate. I don't trust polls, as a rule. However, one Randall Munroe trusts 538's math, and that's good enough for me.

Now if only they kept track of California ballot propositions...

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Slippery subtleties

"The subtleties can be slippery. The Cathedral of St. Peter in Wilmington, Del., where Mr. Biden lives, is promoting a video produced by the conservative Catholic group Fidelis that is intended to persuade Catholic voters to put opposition to abortion rights and same-sex marriage above all other issues.

'Many issues are at stake,' a caption reads as the video displays a fetus and choral music swells. 'Some are more important than others.'" -from David Kirkpatrick's article currently on the front page of the NY Times website.

Some of the subtleties are slipperier than Kirkpatrick noticed. The phrase "choral music swells," for example, describing a video that purports to explain the danger of same-sex marriage. That chorus is full of gays. I guarantee it. Any chorus large enough to "swell" has at least ten gay choristers. Statistical fact.

Fuck you, bigot-Catholics. Stop giving the decent Catholics a bad name.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Celebrity sightings

So I live in Los Angeles, home of the celebrity sighting. I have seen TWO celebrities in the 14 months I've lived here, and both were gay musical theater writers. Neither one of them lives in LA. I clearly have not mastered the celebrity sighting techniques required for citizenship here.

For those who are curious, I have met Richard Thomas, best known as the composer of Jerry Springer: The Opera and John Cameron Mitchell, best known as the writer and star of Hedwig and the Angry Inch (less known as Dickon in The Secret Garden musical). Richard donated $173 to Equality For All and John hung out at my apartment with me and my ex-roommate.

So I may not have the quantity, but I've got the quality.

Oh, also I know a writer for Family Guy, but he's not famous.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Vice

My take on the VP debate, in brief. Republican strategists are well aware of the prevalence of debate-centered drinking games among those Educated Liberal Coastal Elites. They know that every time Sarah Palin says "maverick," each ELCE takes another drink. They figured they'd could kill us all off in one night, and they told her to go for it.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Moments of joy

Yesterday I received a check in the mail for $200.00. While it would have been exciting to get a personal check for that amount, it was more exciting to see that the check was made out to "Equality for All", my current raison d'etre. On top of the generous donation, add the surprise that it came from a sibling of the Alpha Delta Phi Society who graduated from college more than 30 years before me, a sibling who let me know that he is a registered Republican.

This almost made me cry. I almost cry a lot about this campaign. I would like to write more about it, but I desperately need to do my reading for class, and so I must leave this post short and very, very sweet.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

You watch your phraseology!

A phrase I enjoy: "with all due respect"

Why I enjoy it: it is completely meaningless

Example: "With all due respect, I must disagree with your practice of smashing women's faces with hammers just for fun."

How much respect is due to a person who perpetrates such an act of brutality? Very, very little. Therefore, this is a phrase which here means "with very, very little respect."

There are other situations in which I feel very little respect is due. Not a whole hell of a lot of situations, but a few. For example, I feel no respect is due a person's "belief" that my rights are less than his because of my orientation. God is not a surrogate behind whom you can hide your bigotry. God may be many things to many people, but that interpretation is not one I will deign to respect.

(For those of you fortunate enough to participate in the listserv that engendered this post, you may notice that this topic is tangential to that one. I don't intend to be replying directly to a certain alumnus of a certain University. These are just the musings that came out of that other discussion.)

With all due respect, your racist bullshit is unacceptable. With all due respect, your flagrant disregard for the thoughts and feelings of others is disgusting. With all due respect, if your head were any further up your ass you'd be knocking on your own larynx.

The best part of "with all due respect" is that, as long as you're careful about the rest of the sentence, you can use it to say things to people's faces that could otherwise result in fisticuffs. I don't like fisticuffs, but I do like honesty.

Speaking of honesty, here's some: I am so fucking sick and tired of hearing from every single "conservative" who ever graduated from Brown University about how downtrodden they all were and how their voices were never heard. Perhaps if they tried saying things other than "you're not listening to me!", people would listen. Conservative voices are NOT underrepresented in this nation. Grow the fuck up.

Which brings me to my next point: "conservative" and "liberal" are becoming less and less useful. I'm a conservative: I don't want the government telling me whom I can and whom I can't marry. I'm a liberal: I do want the government telling CEOs that they can't just walk away with $700 billion of taxpayer money. I'm a moderate: I believe in acceding to opposing demands in order to achieve some kind of consensus. I'm a radical and a reactionary too (okay I can't think of a reactionary position I hold, but I'm sure there's something). I'm happy to be labeled radical, but I'm not happy to have my positions on any given issue assumed because of that label. I know this 'labels' discussion is old hat, but it's what I've got in my head right now.


I don't actually think there's much of that assumption going on around me. As I noted a few posts back, I'm in a happy place. I'm just in a bad mood from reading Carl fucking Dahlhaus. Not to mention being reminded of how geographically far away I am from some people I miss terribly and how ideologically far away I am from others I don't miss at all.

Sigh. Come on, History. Do your teleological thing and just fucking progress. I'm tired of this moment.

Too good to last

The intarwebs have burst my happiness bubble. Two of the blogs I read regularly (meaning at least once a day) have let me down. It's not the blogs that are at fault, but rather the commenters on said blogs. Racialicious, which usually manages to purge the worst of the nothing-but-offensive-shit comments before I get to them, has had a spate of transphobic commenters on a few recent threads. Bitch PhD, my favorite blog of all, has become a popular target for purportedly race-blind assholes who are certain of their moral and logical infallibility. The most recent post has spurred a long string of trolls arguing that there is no such thing as a "social context" for any remark, and that racism only exists when a speaker decides to purposely enact it with his (or her, but I'll snarkily assume they always think "his" because they're probably sexist too) speech.

Sigh. "Barack Obama is a Muslim terrorist" is not a racist remark because Islam is a religion, say the trolls. Way to miss the fucking point while simultaneously displaying your ignorance of that mythical "social context."

In other news, I somehow didn't notice that I signed up for at least 13.5 hours of volunteer work every week from now until the election. Whoops. At least the guy who convinced me to sign up for the last 6 hours of it was cute.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Thanksgiving, out of season

There are many wonderful things. For instance, this. For another instance, my personal environment. I spent this morning recruiting new members for the union with two other queer musicologists and three other graduate students. That's right; half of the volunteers were musicologists, and all of those were queer. I am in a department that is absolutely and totally queer-friendly, not to say queer-dominated. And not just with respect to stereotypically self-obsessed gay men. Our queers have an interest in a strong union, local and national politics, and delicious buttery croissants. I threw that last one in there to remind you that political awareness does not equate to humorless and pleasurefree automata, as some might imagine. Also I wanted to remember the delicious croissant I ate this morning while recruiting.

After recruiting, the Mysterious X and I finally watched the final episodes of Lois and Clark, which were disappointing and rather useless. Alas. Finishing the series felt good anyway. Next I took a beautiful nap and woke up in time to listen to a Beethoven symphony, read about the history of philosophy, make a delicious dinner, and watch a movie about an Irish soul band that featured Miles O'Brien in a supporting role. After a little more reading, Z2 showed up to settle Catan with us, and a lovely day was done. Plenty of time for productivity, health, and fun.

On top of these great things, the No on 8 campaign got its first commercial out today, a week ahead of schedule! Go us! Life is generally looking great right now.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Ballot initiatives!

Ah, California. This coming election, we'll be voting on no fewer than twelve ballot initiatives. Actually, according to Ballotpedia, two of them are "legislative referrals" instead of "initiatives." Whichever they are, I need to make some decisions. Here are my current positions:
Prop 1A (formerly known as Prop 1): undecided, leaning yes
Prop 2: Of course yes
Prop 3: Of course yes. Note that the ONLY opposition listed on Ballotpedia is the suspiciously-named "National Tax Limitation Committee." I doubt anyone else was willing to come down against children's hospitals.
Prop 4: God NO! This hasn't been getting as much press as Prop 8, but damn is it an ugly one.
Prop 5: Yes, but willing to be argued with.
Prop 6: God no. Idiocy.
Prop 7: Seems no-ish, but definitely need more info.
Prop 8: FUCK NO. See other posts.
Prop 9: No, but I'd love some more info.
Prop 10: Leaning yes, but not certain.
Prop 11: No, I'm pretty sure.
Prop 12: Torn, but leaning no.

As you can see, I could use some arguments on some of the initiatives. Anyone have better information than I do? Stronger opinions? Interesting tidbits? Comments of any kind?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

And some links

Hilarious.

More hilarious.

Interesting and irritating.

Satisfying.

Always engaging.

Money matters

So it looks like Wall Street isn't doing so hot. Lots of unpleasant business going on over there, I hear, and no end in sight. Remind me why this is bad?

I don't want to sound callous. I care when people lose their jobs. I don't, generally speaking, want that to happen. But who's losing jobs from this? Billionaire CEOs of financial firms who already have more than they can possibly consume before death? Are there really custodians or security guards or interns being put on the street by this crisis? I haven't seen any accounts of such folks, which could mean that the papers don't feel their fates are worth reporting. But it could also mean that it's just the giant firms of magic money manipulators that are suddenly sinking like lead balloons. Which reminds me: who the hell came up with that simile? Lead balloons aren't real, you know. Nobody inflates balls of lead. Really.

But back on topic: I'm feeling pretty good about the financial situation. My money is safely locked in Bank of America, the one name I haven't heard intimately connected with SMEF (Spontaneous Massive Existence Failure) in the last few days. As long as my money is resting, inert, it seems to be in no danger. The dollar is plummeting, of course, so I should avoid travel abroad for now, but that's okay; I don't have time to travel or enough money to afford an international flight anywhere at all. Maybe a bus to Mexico. It's only about two hours south of here, I think.

But I digress. The point is fiscal inertia. Scoffed at by the far more business-savvy than I, leaving money just a-settin' in bank vaults seems to me to be the best bet. Not solely because of the market instability currently in vogue, but for a more fundamental reason. I don't really believe in the wizardry of investment, in making money out of nothing. I believe in the five dollars of interest I got in my savings account a couple of days ago (see my last post for an explanation of how this works. Okay, not an explanation so much as a mystification), but not really more than that. Once interest reaches an actually useful amount of money, I grow suspicious. I don't trust the magic money not to vanish whence it came.

This clearly makes me a special kind of Luddite. I trust the computer and the voodoo of the intarwebs, but not the (theoretically) far more prosaic workings of the bank and the market. I just get uncomfortable with money that appears for no reason. Either I should have worked for it, or it should come from someone who has an emotional reason to want to give me things. One, or the other, or both. That's pretty much all the money I feel okay accepting.

This has been a circuitous ramble through mostly uncharted territory in my skull. The money section has shoulder-high weeds and a rusty chain-link fence warning off all passersby. Perhaps it will become more well-traveled in the near future, but I hope not. I like having just enough money in the bank not to feel worried and not to have to think about it too much. Once that becomes impossible, I will worry about the fates of the poor Lehman Brothers executives.

Oh, and just for the record: even though I don't see these collapses as terrible, I still believe that they make the need for regulation stupefyingly obvious. So Les Winan, you jerk-off brokerage analyst. Yes, there's sort of a verb in that sentence.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A small percentage of a telephone

Today I participated in my first-ever phone bank. That's a thing where you put your phone away in a magic box and wait a year or so until you have 1.07 phones. Then you take the extra .07 of a phone and either invest it wisely or give it to the Bird Woman outside St. Paul's Cathedral.

Actually, that's not what a phone bank is, it turns out. I still have only 1 phone. But I did use that phone to call lots and lots of random party-less voters and ask a few of them their opinions on gay marriage and Proposition 8. My stats, which apparently reflected unusual productivity, were approximately 77 dials, 17 wrong numbers, 9 definite "no" votes (yay!), 1 definite "yes" vote (boo!), 1 non-English speaker (Italian, I think, but I marked her as Spanish), and 2 undecideds. Meaning that almost 50 of my calls went to people who weren't home or didn't answer their cell phones. There's got to be a better way to do this! Two people in our bank had over 50 wrong numbers each. Is that really worth the time?

It is, it turns out. We raised a bit of money and got a few volunteers to help out next week. That's enough to make it worthwhile, though not enough to win. If you have time and live in California, please see if you can attend just one four-hour phone bank. They're everywhere, every weekend and some weekdays. If you don't live here, please give some money. Any money at all. The website is linked above, or you can contact me and I'll arrange a donation. The campaign is endearing itself to me by requesting donations of bizarre amounts like $173 or $36.

If you have no interest in keeping same-sex marriage legal in California, and you somehow read this blog anyway (who the hell are you, hypothetical reader?), think of this as a way to mobilize vastly more Obama voters to actually get to the polls in November. Don't let the wackos like my one "yes" voter win this. His reason for voting the wrong way? Marriage should be hard work, as difficult as possible. Gay people want to get married just for "convenience." We should be allowed to adopt children, but not get married; we just don't work hard enough. Really, I'm barely paraphrasing. These are the nuts to beat.

On a lighter note, I was given a free DVD of Dante's Cove at the phone bank. Good God is that show awful. It's like porn, but with tastefully censored sex scenes. Leaving only stilted dialogue and wooden acting behind. At least the people doing the bad acting are hot. Except Tracy Scoggins, previously best known to me for her ludicrous portrayal of gossip columnist Cat Grant on Lois and Clark. Maybe Bab-5 fans will take issue with my dismissal of Ms. Scoggins; I must admit I've never seen it. Feel free to take me to task. Just as long as you also donate some money to No on Prop 8.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Still alive

It's been 10 days since my last update. I've spent much of that time rearranging furniture and then sitting on it. Not too much interesting has happened. I just feel like I should update so the internet doesn't think I'm ignoring it. Don't worry, Tubes, I still love you. I'm just not writing to you as often.

UPDATE: Mere moments after posting this, I read of the horrible train crash here in LA that took place this afternoon. The title of this post gains new relevance in this light. I'm not sure what I have to say on this topic yet, but man is it scary. This is at the root of my fear of roller coasters (along with the whole height and speed and motion sickness thing): what happens if somehow another thing is on the track going the other way? You can't get off the track. You just die. Like in that creepy story from freshman year English in high school.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Triangle Board

Today the Mysterious X and I went on our first furniture-buying excursion. Praise be to the thrift store, for we found a dining room table with four matching chairs all made out of REAL WOOD! I hate, loathe, despise and abominate particle board. Not that the former table was made of it, but far too much of the furniture one can afford on my salary is. This find was refreshing. It's shitty wood, assembled in Malaysia probably by underpaid children, but as the secondhand purchase supports the AIDS Healthcare Foundation instead of the sweatshop, I felt little guilt about this. And that limited guilt was immediately assuaged by simply running my hands over the smooth wooden surface of our new table.

On the same trip to Out of the Closet, we donated my old DVD player, purchased there one year ago for the whopping sum of $25.00. Unfortunately, when we returned home and tried to watch a DVD, we discovered that the Mysterious X's DVD player is too newfangled for our Triassic television, and I had to run back to the store and un-donate the old one. D'oh. There go our hopes and dreams of a DVD player with an operational remote control. If only the old and new fangles had been compatible!

I also returned home with a small, blue, thick-bottomed glass dish in the shape of a fish to use as Nikolai's new water dish; this should free up one of my ramekins for more culinary purposes. We'll see if he accepts that change along with the newly rearranged living quarters and change from broccoli to lettuce that I inflicted upon him today. This may be too much for his delicate constitution to take at once. Especially since one of his crickets is a free-range one I caught in the living room instead of a Petco-raised industrial cricket.

Soon we will return to OotC to seek more furniture of the non-particulate type. Important living room items remaining: coffee table and/or end table(s), TV stand, possibly a lamp. Though I might be fascinated enough by a particle board lamp to give it a shot.

Non-moving-related thoughts are on hold for the moment; forgive the fascination with furniture and fish-dishes.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

For the Snark was a Boojum, you see

Sometimes, I am in a very bad mood. Sometimes I snark at people without a decent reason. Snarkiness is a state I understand, though I strive to avoid it. There is a fine line, however, between feeling snarky and being a raging disgruntled harridan whose only goal is to make the lives of others miserable.

It has been my misfortune to share a building with one such harridan in the past, and it is my continuing misfortune to share a different building with another. Each has had an excuse, and a reasonable one. This one has some sort of chronic condition that is reportedly extremely painful. The other was an accountant. Either of those conditions would make me snarky, certainly, but they would not make me a bitter, vicious old woman with no joy in my life. Really, they wouldn't.

My father raised me to believe that the highest virtue to which one can aspire is to care about how one's actions affect others. I like to think that I do a pretty good job at that. Therefore, when a harridan accosts me for speaking too loudly in my own living room and accuses me of being inconsiderate, I tend to lose my temper.

I hate losing my temper. I like my temper, and I like knowing where it is at any given time. When I lose it, I tend to fume for at least 24 hours, if not days. I go over in my head all the ways in which I could revenge myself upon the hapless soul who has incurred my wrath. After many such ruminations, I generally revenge myself by smiling and baking cookies for the person. Not a very good revenge, I admit, but it usually makes the person go away.

Today, I discovered a new solution to my snarkiness. You may have noticed the new link in my sidebar: Cake Wrecks. Cake Wrecks is such a lighthearted outlet for snarking that it totally defuses my (self-)righteous anger. Thanks, internet!

Thanks also to Trousers for a 3-hour conversation and to Reese, inventor of the miraculous peanut butter cup.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Science!

The latest installments in the SciFi Extravaganza that is my vacation:

Dark City (also known as the story off of which The Matrix was ripped) and Mesa of Lost Women, starring (believe it or not) Uncle Fester.

I must admit, the details of these valuable cinematic classics are a bit fuzzy in my head. Perhaps the infamous weed machine has something to do with this, but I think perhaps the fragile premises of the films and, in the latter case, the fact that it was filmed by two different directors at two different times have more to do with it.

Over the course of the evening, which also included an unbelievably slow side trip through MST3K's Gunslinger (yawn), I managed to grow quite fond of Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Lace Cookies (not pictured here, but approximated). They left more of an impression than the films, on memory, tongue, and waistline. Not that I expected the films to leave an impression on tongue or waistline.

A few of the more memorable bits from the films, however, so as not to appear remiss in my newly-assigned mission of spreading awful science fiction far and wide:

-Dr. Aranya's exotic, Mexican, bulletproof spider-woman (named Tarantella) dancing "seductively" to incessant guitar music (about which more later)

-The unbearably repetitive cadence of Kiefer Sutherland's "German" (I guess) accent. I swear he was speaking in some sort of ancient Greek meter. However, the accent was clearly German because he was a psychiatrist.

-Richard O'Brien playing, as one expects, a balding and strangely formal superhuman alien


Now, about the soundtrack to Mesa of Lost Women. I have been known to state, on multiple occasions, that The Village has the worst everything of any movie I have ever seen. The worst script, acting, direction, costumes, plot, etc. I must admit, sadly, that this statement is now a lie. Mesa's soundtrack is worse. Far, far worse. Hoyt S. Curtin, my hat is off to you.

As Mesa is set, largely, in Mexico, someone decided to have a "Mexican" soundtrack. This translates as "some jackass very rapidly strumming one chord on a guitar over and over again." Wow. I can practically taste the corn tortillas! Combine the music with Pepe the almost-mute Mexican servant and Tarantella the exotic dancer, and you have an amazingly offensive film, even before you add in Wu the Chinese servant who speaks only in fortune cookies. But that's not the worst part of the soundtrack.

It's on loop. I swear. It's not reprises of the same music; it's just the same track played again and again and again for 70 minutes. Without the slightest regard for scene length, of course, so the music continues unabated through blackouts and strings of scenes with no emotional connection to one another. Way to utilize the composer, guys.

Here's my brilliant theory as to why this travesty was allowed, nay encouraged. Ron Ormond, director #2, understood that he needed to film many more scenes and somehow integrate them with Herbert Tevos' (director #1's) scenes. "I know!" he thought, "I'll just have Hoyt here strum his guitar over the breaks between my footage and Herb's, and nobody will ever notice that they have nothing in common! It's so crazy it just might work!"

Well, Ron, it didn't. Your movie still stank to high heaven, and the soundtrack was the icing on the diseased-vagina frog cake.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Microwaves can kill you

I spent pretty much all of Friday (until dinner) in a shitty mood. Thanks to the people who had to put up with it, Violesbian and Van Helsing. I'm not sure if they already had code names that I've now superseded, but oh well. I like these.

Why was I in such a mood? Several reasons. Primary reason: got very little sleep on Thursday night. Secondary: have not been to the gym in over a week. [Tertiary reason redacted] Quaternary: Four people canceled within an hour of my potluck beginning and a few more just didn't show.

I should not have been in such a mood. Why should I not? My potluck was still highly enjoyable and delicious, with only eight people here. I spent Friday with people I enjoy a great deal (see above). I Got Things Done, which usually makes me cheerful. And yet, the mood continued unabated from about 8 AM until about 7 PM.

Dinner, with drinks following, dispersed some of my clouds. Violesbian and I were joined by the Blues at Fritto Misto after we finished microwave shopping at Sears and the Blues finished everything-else shopping at BB&B. Let me say here and now, in this publicesque forum, that if you have the opportunity to buy a microwave oven at a place that is not Sears, TAKE THAT OPPORTUNITY. A few details of our difficulties:

-The Sears website would not load "specs" pages for any microwaves on the ancient typewriters-cum-computers Violesbian and I were using. We had to join Van Helsing in her office to find a computer that would load the specs.

-Since we were getting a microwave for a very specific small space in the department copy room, we needed accurate measurements. Check out the specs on this gem, the one we ended up picking. See any problems? How about "Depth: 8-7/8 in." and "Turntable diameter: 12 in."? Picture it, if you can. Not to mention this one, whose interior dimensions (1,700.55 cu. in.) exceed its exterior dimensions (1,584 cu. in.) by a good 116 cubic inches. M. C. Escher designed appliances too; didn't you know?

-With the knowledge that the internet dimensions were, at best, unreliable, we turned to that miracle of modern technology, the telephone. Violesbian went first. After successfully navigating the turbulent waters of the automated menus, she reached a real person, who proceeded to read her the dimensions off of the website. Pointing out that these were physically impossible, Violesbian was "transferred" to the "appliances department," which was another automated menu. Which itself transferred her back to the first automated menu. Then it was my turn to call. I called the closest Sears location, and navigated the automated menu to reach "small appliances," the home of microwaves. After the phone rang many times, a recording apologized to me. It was sorry, it said, that nobody had answered my call. I hung up.

-Having used up the available technology, we decided to go to Sears and look at the labels on the actual microwaves. This meant that we wouldn't be able to purchase a microwave that day, as the Byzantine purchasing department would have shut its doors for the weekend by the time we arrived. Giving up on the sale that ended today, we departed anyway, impossible dimensions in hand, to determine Actual Size. Lo and behold, the specs on the tags at Sears did not match the impossible internet specs! Unfortunately, they didn't match the specs of the microwaves either. Violesbian borrowed a tape measure from the tools department, and we measured every microwave ourselves. The upshot: we CAN get the bright red one we wanted! Van Helsing will be thrilled.

-On our way out, we mentioned to the friendly customer service man that we had had problems with the posted dimensions. "Oh, yes," he said, "they're all wrong."


After that ordeal, pretty much anything would have been an improvement. Dinner and drinks with the Blues (known individually as Jane and ANC!) was pretty much the perfect improvement. I introduced them to my favorite bar (I will link to this as often as possible), and they enjoyed it. Huzzah!

Today I will feel better. That is the goal. Perhaps eating all that chocolate last night was a bad way of working toward that goal; I instead feel slightly ill.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Science Fiction Double Feature

Last night, Gris and the She God of Shark Reef and I consumed two more classics of the genre, Attack of the Monsters and the similarly named Attack of the Crab Monsters.

Un. Be. Liev. A. Ble.

Attack of the Monsters is the fifth in the dodecalogy of Gamera films, and it's surreality cannot be overstated. A plot synopsis simply won't convey the power of Gamera, everyone's favorite tusked rocket turtle, also known as "the friend of children" for some reason. Suffice it to say that the two cannibal women of the tenth planet are defeated, despite their knife-faced, laser-reflecting henchmonster and their poisonous donuts that lead to involuntary head shaving. In the end, Akio expresses the universal desire for world peace, understanding among all people, and an end to car accidents.


Attack of the Crab Monsters is, of course, completely unrelated to its similarly-named companion film. It deals with intangible telepathic radioactive zombie giant land crabs, as one might predict. And The Professor, as one might not predict. I learned from this movie that atomic bombs, the French, and the Germans are not to be trusted. Post-WWII much? I also learned that women are to be referred to as "honey," and cannot contribute to intellectual discussions, even when they hold PhDs in marine biology. In fact, the only contribution the lone human female makes is to notice that the female intangible telepathic radioactive zombie giant land crab is pregnant.


I recommend, as a complement to Gamera films, a large quantity of hallucinogenic drugs. They should really bring out the nutty undertones. For the Crabs, I hear there's a special soap.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Busfolk

I love experiencing new people on public transit.

Tonight, as I rode the Metro Bus #4 at about 11:30 PM, I listened (along with everyone else who didn't have headphones on) to a conversation between a totally forgettable man and a rail-thin, badly-bleached, middle-aged, hyphenated-adjective woman in a private security uniform with one of the most piercing voices it has ever been my misfortune to undergo.

Most memorable line: "The first time I heard Metallica, I just froze. I couldn't believe people could sing like that."

I enjoy the fact that this middle-aged female security guard with a barrette perched incongruously on the side of her head is a Metallica fan. And that she feels the need to share with everyone around her, especially the hapless stranger she had engaged in conversation, how much Metallica moves her.

Also, the bus driver was talking to herself a lot. That's a lot scarier than when a passenger seems to be crazy, which happens most days.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Lyrics

I have no idea how many times I've listened to R.E.M.'s song "Exhuming McCarthy", but I know it's a lotta buncha times (Thanks are due to George Carlin for inventing the term "lotta buncha."). Really really a lot.

Today I learned the name of the song for the first time. Apparently I never knew what it was called, despite having owned the album for...a decade? A long time. I know that I was ignorant of the name because I never could figure out the lyrics of the refrain. The lyrics are, in fact, "exhuming McCarthy," the same as the title. I vacillated between wondering who the hell "Jimmy McCarthy" was, and wondering if Michael Stipe was just Stipe-ifying the name Jenny McCarthy. Why he would be singing about Jenny McCarthy was a tributary problem from this river of confusion. Especially confusing because she was 15 when the album was released.

I wonder how many other songs I know could provide similar instances of my idiocy? And I call myself a musicologist...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Out of Memory

Today my uncle died. He was 74 years old, so it's not that shocking. The perhaps more shocking aspect is that I really don't care. Honestly. He was my father's brother, and we never see my father's family, except weddings, funerals, and bar mitzvahs. I could probably count on my fingers the times I've met Uncle Warren. At least the ones I remember, the ones after babyhood.

My father, on the other hand, cares. His usual way of showing this is to speak openly and honestly about why Warren's death matters to him, without ever giving an impression of emotional impact. Being in touch with feelings is a good thing, but not too closely. That could get dangerous. Bah.

I absolutely do not want to go to the funeral. Not at all. I care very little about anyone who will be there, except for my parents and possibly my sister (possibly she will be there, not possibly I care). But will I go? Maybe Dad will be upset if I obviously don't care, but not too upset if I argue logistics? I have yet to decide how to handle this.

I also feel slightly guilty for not caring. I cry about strangers I read about in the newspaper (rarely, but it happens), but have not the slightest urge to cry for my newly dead uncle.

Oh well. RIP Warren Baltimore, 1934-2008. I'm sure you were worth getting to know better than I did. I'm sorry you and Dad never understood each other enough to make any lasting relationship work. I wish y'all had either gotten over your estrangement or given me some sort of explanation behind it. Sorry I never made it out to Nantucket to visit you. Not sorry I never made it out to Ohio to visit you when you were there. Hope the democratic party there can make it without you. I certainly can, and for that I am also sorry.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Rewired

Well, that was six days without home internet. Thankfully, they are over now. Do you know what combines quite poorly? Lack of internet, lack of bus pass, and lack of roommates. Total internal reflection, as the physicists say. Not as bad, perhaps, as total destructive interference, the term that I decided in high school physics class would be The Best Band Name Ever.

In my isolation, which was by no means total, I had lots of time to get things done around the house. Of course, I had no motivation to do those things. I did get most of my chores done, but I took six days to do them instead of the about one and a half they should have taken. I did exactly no school work at all, but I did spend about ten to twelve hours cleaning the grad student offices at school. That felt productive and useful, but caused some pretty severe breathing problems on Friday night. I really hope the extensive cleaning took care of whatever got in my lungs that afternoon; I don't want everyone who uses our offices to get some sort of permanent pulmonary problem.

I hosted the first of my weekly potlucks. There were five of us there, which was a good number for giving people just eight hours notice or so. The next one will be held in conjunction with game night with the UCLA LGSN folks (queer grad students), which should be fun. It'll be the second non-bar-night event of the year, if I'm counting correctly. If you're in LA, come on over! Food at 8; games at 9:30.

I worked on a bunch of administrative stuff for the department guest speaker series. But not enough stuff; I still don't know where the money comes from. That mystery should get cleared up this week, I hope.

I watched television. In great quantities. This translates to two full seasons of Arrested Development and almost all of Twin Peaks. I officially have a crush on every male character under 40 in the latter series.

Best of all, I went last night to see the fabulous Eddie Izzard at the Kodak Theater, accompanied by the lovely She God of Shark Reef and Z2. "Lovely" modifies both of those names. While Eddie was "an off-duty transvestite," he still looked Glorious, and sounded the same. I expected much of his material to overlap with the last show I saw of his, the tiny Coronet Theatre preview-ish show, but other than mentions of iPhones and squirrels, there was no noticeable repetition.

In case you were interested, Eddie supports Barack Obama. He encouraged us all to not only vote for Barack (rhymes with "back" in his accent), but to move to Florida after voting and vote again. He took a more vehemently atheist position than I've heard in his past standups, which I found heartwarming. The whole thing was hilarious, despite the complete lack of both James Mason impressions and mentions of jam. I don't want to spoil any jokes for those who intend to see the show on its travels, so I won't share specifics.


Today, the internet is back. Supposedly, my bus pass is also back. According to the nice Metro official on the phone, the reason this latest pass didn't work is because their system was down all weekend, and my card was activated too late in the week to start working before the system went down. I'll believe this explanation when I see my card work tomorrow. Hopes are not high on that front. Either way, I need to go to school tomorrow, so I'll be taking the bus. De-isolation and intellectual re-engagement, here I come!