Friday, June 27, 2008

Wake up, Los Angeles!

Thank you, City of Muenster Planning Office, for proving my oft-repeated point. Get on the damn bus!

In other news, I leave Boston for NY in about 45 minutes. Trousers' landlord, being crazy, decided late last night that today, 27 June 2008, is actually the first of the month, and so we need to be packed and gone now. Foolish mortal. We will be packed and gone by tomorrow, which screws up plans to some degree, but we can do it.

In other other news, I discovered a fun problem with my computer! I sent it in for repairs a few weeks ago, and the lovely, efficient repair folks at Apple fixed it and returned it in one day. The plastic plate that surrounds the trackpad and keyboard was cracking, so they replaced it. Now that it's "fixed," the plate is totally uncracked, but when I press down on the blank space on either side of the trackpad, the space where my hands rest when I type, the mouse clicks.

This is interminably frustrating.

It seems to be fading, so I think I'll just let it go and see what happens. Maybe the whole thing will turn into one giant mouse button!

That's all for now. Readers in the NY area, please call me if you want to get together!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Quote of the day

"The news will be a major political blow to the Albany area, which has benefited from Mr. Bruno’s ability to shower the region with pork."

Thank you, New York Times, for a disgusting mental image. On the other hand, perhaps this could be a real-world version of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Who knew a 79-year-old Republican state senator from upstate New York had such powers?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Remembering Marx's Carbuncles

I have returned to the world of intarwebs access, phone service, and public transportation. Communist Space Camp, as The Mysterious X has dubbed it, is over for another year, alas. In order to make the acronym more pleasing to me, I will slightly rename it: Communist Space Camp Wonderland (CSCW).

CSCW was quiet this year, with lots o' folks missing or only briefly stopping by. Nevertheless, I loved it. I had some great conversations, saw some incredible people, and played with lots of children. Plus, I did all of this in the gorgeous Berkshires, in and around Plantain Pond.

This year, the entire area was smothered beneath a layer of blooming mountain laurel, an unbelievably beautiful flowering bush that only occasionally blooms early enough for me to appreciate it at CSCW. This resulted, as usual, in pitchers of flowers on every dinner table, plus a bouquet pinned to Ginger's vest on Friday evening.

Two more of my little boys are headed to college next year, plus another three CSCW-ers. This year marks the first year that a child whose birth I distinctly remember has, disturbingly, graduated from high school. When did I get so old? Two more, at least, are doing the same next year. Oy. Relatedly, but even more disturbingly, boys whom I helped to raise are becoming sexually attractive adults. I find this slightly creepy, despite the fact that there is no possibility of a sexual relationship with any of them, given my almost-paternal feelings and their near-universal heterosexuality. Also, I think it's wrong to feel creepy about finding young men physically attractive, as long as I don't act on these findings. Nevertheless, creepy is what I feel.

Back onto positive topics: I spoke with my sister for no less than a minute or two on Sunday! We both tried very hard, I think, to make it a real conversation. Next time, the goal is five minutes. Shudder. I also had a real conversation not with but about my mother, discussing her unhappiness with the Burbqnk Matriarch. It was gratifying to know that someone else is watching her and noting her discontent and wanting to do something about it. This may not sound like a positive topic, but I assure you it is.

I am running out of describable aspects of CSCW 2008. Most of the beauty of it is not conveyable by blag. However, a few more notable moments:

1. Drinking absinthe with the Ball-Breaker (age 66) and, briefly, Ivan (age 11). Ivan's codename, nothing like his real name, derives from the frequency of the name Ivan for third sons in Russian folklore. Ball-Breaker's, from a famous shirt of hers.

2. Giving Engels a back massage so relaxing that he immediately passed out for about five hours. This was the last in a string of about seven massages I gave on Saturday evening; my hands are famous and magical.

3. Making up new verses to the "Hop, Little Bunny" song. My favorites: "Spit, Little Llama" and "Eat, Little Tapeworm." Children's entertainment has never been more educational!

4. Burning my wishes in the solstice bonfire. This was followed by much revelry and the fiery sacrifice of many a marshmallow. Welcome, summer.

5. Remembering how to knit! I made three squares for the afghans we send off to college with the kids, up from one square last year. The first of these, I must confess, is not fit to wipe one's boots on, but the second and third are quite respectable. I have red and black yarn with me from the third square, and I intend to remember how to purl next.

6. Singing Neely Bruce's wonderful Sacred Harp setting of the First Amendment with Ginger, Novgorod, and Rainbow Brite. I intend to find the rest of the amendments (only the first ten, thank Bruce) and sing them all, with the exception of the second.

7. Staying up until 5 AM on Saturday night/Sunday morning to keep Ix company before his departure for the train station. Ivan and Engels were passed out on the couches, while Rainbow Brite, Ix, and I talked for several hours. It was a great way to end CSCW.

Post-camp, I am in Beantown. Many visits will ensue, I am sure, as I have already seen one old friend (AMisH) and spoken to three others. For now, I am enjoying alone time at AMisH's apartment while she is at work--I had a REAL shower and did LAUNDRY! I feel so clean and like a real person!

(If you are wondering about the title, check out this!)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

For security reasons...

Newsflash: Peanut butter is now a liquid. Or a gel; I'm not sure which. I just know that the jar of peanut butter in my backpack resulted in a very friendly TSA agent (perhaps a cyborg replacement? They're supposed to be horrendously self-important and cranky, not smiling and helpful) sending me back through security, plastic knife in hand, to recombine the items in my luggage into a more secure form. What did this mean? I took my loaf of bread and my half-empty jar of peanut butter and made SEVEN peanut butter sandwiches. These sandwiches, unlike the jar of peanut butter, posed no threat to national security. I think the plastic baggy around them ensured that.

While I appreciate not being forced to throw away my peanut butter, I question the logic behind this situation.

I am off to summercamp tomorrow afternoon. No intertubes for ten days. Don't do anything too interesting while I'm gone!

Oh, and all musicologically inclined readers should check out today's Cat and Girl. Kick ass.

A Drop of Golden Sun

This summer, I will be working on a Graduate Summer Research Mentorship with a certain Dr. Raymond [Last name omitted for purposes of preserving anonymity]. In preparation for this experience, I would like to expound on the many beauties of Ray.

1. Once upon a time (this fall), Ray gave me a good grade in his seminar. Upon another time, he indicated to me that he was disappointed I hadn't submitted my final paper from his seminar for the department's Best Seminar Paper of the Year award.

2. Every time I show Ray a paper of mine, he wants to work with me to turn it into something publishable. He has never been anything other than completely supportive and excited by my work. He is almost equally excited about showing me his work.

3. Today, when we met to discuss our summer projects, he was an hour late, and when he arrived he was tipsy. Why is this a good thing, you may ask? He was taking our department SAO (Student Affairs Officer) out to a two-hour lunch. And they had white wine, which he described as "yummy."

4. He wrote an article about some boring Mahler thing a while back--and included an extended footnote about...wait for it..."Jingle Bells." Because he read something exciting about "Jingle Bells" and wanted to share.

5. He got me TA-ships in the three classes I most wanted to TA! If things go as planned, the three professors for whom I am TAing next fall, plus Ray, will be my dissertation committee. Plus, I suppose, some outside person, since I need one of those.

(My three TA-ships, by the way, are History of Rock and Roll in the Fall, Writing about Music in the Winter, and LGBT Pop in the Spring.)

6. He once walked into our office and put a lamp shade on his head for no immediately apparent reason.

7. An actor in Attack of the 50-Foot Woman looks like a much younger version of him. I understand that he didn't do this, but it's still awesome.

8. A totally other man who also happens to be named Ray told me today that the gym I use, chosen by virtue of its being three blocks from my apartment, is also the gym used by QUEEN LATIFAH!! This is the best way to get me to go to the gym more often. Like ten hours a day. Every day. With my copy of Chicago and a Sharpie.

9. He (back to the first Ray now) told me that my inability to write a decent conclusion is just like most musicals (and Gilbert & Sullivan shows), which generally have shitty second acts and trite resolutions. While this doesn't excuse me from learning how to write conclusions, it gives me a damn good line to use on all my other professors when they complain.

I think I've exhausted my paeans for the evening. I must be awake again in 6 and a half hours to get ready to leave for the airport! Exactly 24 hours after that, I will be having lunch with Pokémon and Rainbow Brite!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Tomorrow morning, I depart sunny Southern California for apparently sunnier New York. Our temperatures have been pretty solidly 15° cooler than theirs for the last while. That's Fahrenheit; I don't care enough about Canadians to do the Celsius conversion.

Here is my approximate summer itinerary for those who are interested:

12 June: Depart LAX at 12:45 PM; arrive ISP at 10:50 PM
13 June: Depart Huntington for CommieCamp
22 June: Depart CommieCamp for Boston
27 June: Depart Boston for NYC/Huntington
06 July: Depart Huntington for Boston/Providence
19 July: Depart Boston/Providence for NYC/Huntington
25 July: Depart NYC/Huntington for Boston
27 July: Depart Boston for Huntington
29 July: Depart ISP at 07:00 AM; arrive BUR at 11:25 AM

If you, my readers, will be in any of those areas at or around those times, please contact me! After I return to LA, I'll still have two months of summer, so I plan to see people and have fun. Unfortunately, I will be desperately poor and also possibly on jury duty, so you'll have to come visit me if you want to get together.

I don't believe I've shared my summer funding woes. Let me begin with the disclaimer that I am VERY grateful for summer funding, and I am doing quite well, better than most graduate students I know. That said, I will be making $2,000 less than I make in an academic quarter. To put it another way, I usually have $X for 3 months; I will now have $X-2,000 for 4 months. And I have to fly cross-country and take innumerable bus trips (see above) on that money. Plus, I have no roommate for August, which makes my rent/utilities slightly higher, and every little bit makes me that much more nervous.

My plan right now is to eat nothing but jasmine rice, still reliably $.79/pound at my local Whole Foods. Or, alternatively, hire myself out as a personal assistant/chef/pool boy to some rich folks in the Hills. Or both. I could have a nest egg!

Saturday, June 7, 2008


I don't know much about birds. I can't identify them by call or appearance, except in a few specific cases. For example, I can recognize a nightingale, because I don't know any other birds that sing at night. However, if a thrush decided to sing at night, I would happily identify it also as a nightingale. Similarly, I can identify crows because they caw. Any other birds that caw, I call crows. They could probably be any other branch of the Corvidae.

These examples are chosen specifically because, in the trees next to my apartment, there reside a nightingale and a crow. All night long, the nightingale sings his little heart out outside my bedroom window. All. Night. Long. When he's done, his buddy the crow takes over. And caws. All morning. Sometimes, like right now, their shifts overlap.

I am reminded of the old Looney Tunes cartoon where the two sheepdogs punch a time clock to indicate when it's whose turn to abuse the poor coyote, who just thought that sheep would make a nice change from never actually catching roadrunners. Thankfully, there are no roadrunners living outside my window. The constant beep beep noise they make would drive me nuts-er than I am now. Plus I couldn't stand the exhaust fumes that always appear when they start running.

Have I mentioned that I don't really know much about birds?

Thursday, June 5, 2008


On Monday, I will be turning 25. This is not all that exciting; I can rent cars cheaply now, but I still can't afford gas. As of this morning, the "cheap" gas station in my neighborhood was at $4.35 a gallon.

This gayborhood called West Hollywood puzzles me sometimes. Pride will be happening here this weekend, and I have heard from several sources that it's not great here. According to the She God of Shark Reef, there isn't a sense of community, so Pride tends to be spread out and disjointed and not feel like family. Long Beach Pride, she says, is better than LA Pride.

WTF? I live in probably the biggest gayborhood there is; Pride happens literally yards from my front door; even the straight bars are covered in rainbows to get ready. Why don't we have the best fucking Pride in the world? Because this is LA--no central core, everything streeeeetched out to ridiculous dimensions, and people complaining that nobody really connects. Of course. I blame Frederic Jameson.

I have a counterexample. Last night, The Mysterious X, the She God, Z2, a cute boy I don't really know (who lives in Minnesota and is moving to Germany, so sigh), and I went drinking at my very favorite bar to celebrate the She God becoming Dr. She God of Shark Reef. I had already decided to have my birthday celebration there, and I figured I should clear it with the bartender first. I went to talk to her, chatted about her drastic but überhot haircut for a bit, then told her the deal. She told me that, sadly, they were planning to be closed on Monday to clean up after Pride. And then, guess what happened. She called some people and got them to agree to open the bar JUST FOR MY PARTY!

How sweet is that? I'm a "regular" at a neighborhood bar. The bartenders (or one of them at least) are (is) willing to work on a day off so I can have a birthday party. Plus, I finally met the one male bartender, and he's really cute. This bar gets better every day. As long as there are places like The Normandie Room, Laurel Pet Hospital, and the Fairfax High School Flea Market, I will not believe the people who complain about lack of community in LA. It's there; get off your ass and find it.

Unless you live in Westwood. Then you're just screwed.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The end is nigh

Tonight I finished a draft of my last final paper! Tomorrow I will edit it, present it, and turn it in. Then I will edit and turn in my already-presented other final paper. Then, after Friday's classes, I will be done with my first year of graduate school. I imagine that will occasion a lengthy, thoughtful post, reflecting on my first year here in sunny Southern California.

For now, I will limit myself to this:


Thank you.