Sunday, November 30, 2008


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 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


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


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


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:


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.