Thursday, May 28, 2009


On Tuesday, I met a man whose name, for the purposes of this blog, will be Jim. Jim and I had seen each other in passing many times, but we'd never been formally introduced, and on Tuesday afternoon we officially met, shook hands, he asked where my accent was from, the whole deal.

Yes, people always ask where my accent is from. No, they never guess right. Yes, they always think I'm Canadian.

Anyway, Jim and I both volunteer with Vote For Equality, and have been doing so since before the election. He's probably about 70-75 years old, and he does every kind of office work we have at VFE, always with a smile. That's about the limit of what I knew of Jim until Tuesday.

That night, we both were at the big rally protesting the California Supreme Court's expected reprehensible decision. I was there sans glasses, as only one temple (that's the arm-like bit) was still attached, and I felt that the middle of a large mob of people milling about on pavement was a very bad place to have precariously-perched eyewear. Jim asked me about my glasses; I explained that they had self-destructed, and he offered to let me try his. Miraculously, the prescription was close enough to mine to (mostly) function! I, of course, declined to steal the glasses off his face, but instead wandered fairly blindly around the rally.

Today, after a trip to the optometrist (my glasses remain in the care of Specs Appeal), a wild bus detour around Obama's unexpectedly-blocking-major-roads security detail, and a day at school, I went back to VFE. What did I find awaiting me? A bag of six pairs of Jim's spare glasses.

I met him yesterday, and he's giving me glasses. This is why I love the people I meet in Los Angeles.

Oh, one more thing. They look like this.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Decisions, decisions

Today is officially the Day of Decision. Tonight the rallies begin again.

If you're looking for something to do this evening, come on by the corner of Santa Monica and San Vicente. I'll be there. I'll be the really gay looking one. You can't miss me.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


Taking a quick break from MA exams to express my deep conflict about this new television programme, Glee. Love a show about highschool misfits who sing; always makes me cry. Hate a show that's really about three beautiful straight white people with a DIVERSITY! supporting cast of a (straight?) fat black girl, a lesbian Asian girl with a stutter, a gay white boy, and a (straight?) white boy in a wheelchair, none of whom will ever actually get to be in the center of a shot or a plot.

Better improve on the next episode, Glee, or even shirtless Matthew Morrison can't keep me there.

Friday, May 22, 2009

This is a test

So in nine hours I start my MA exams. Some disjointed thoughts on this process:

1. I don't have to go anywhere for four whole days! Sweet!!

2. I have to write a bunch of stuff in not a bunch of time. Not sweet. Savory, in fact.

3. This is not a "terminal" masters degree. Therefore I can't possibly die while obtaining it, right?

4. Masters exams mean that I can get all my laundry done and not worry about whether I'll be home in two hours to take it out of the dryer.

5. I think I want to be a Mistress of Arts instead.

6. Tonight I ate a medium-sized bag of the most delicious potato chips ever to prepare myself for the exam. I'm sure it helped. Because I am getting a degree in potatochipology.

7. Even better--doughnutology. The Mysterious X, the She God of Shark Reef, 'Nald, and I would probably all be able to acquire that degree without any further study. I will be a Professor of Doughnutology with a focus in Blueberry. My research interests include buying by the dozen and calculating when fresh batches are baked.

I guess I should go to sleep or something so I can be ready for this exam?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Brains! Brains!

I like these thematically linked posts. Tonight's theme is brains. Just so you don't strain yourselves trying to figure it out.

This evening I saw, apparently for the second time, that classic of American cinema, The Atomic Brain. I didn't remember that I'd seen it before, but my eerie prescience throughout the film indicates that perhaps this was not my first experience with Dr. Frank, Mrs. March, and their various victims. My biggest problem with the movie, oddly, was probably that the "Austrian" girl is named Nina Rhodes. Pronounced 9-uh. Really. Other than that, Atomic Brain is pure gold.

The second feature at tonight's film festival was 1978's The Alpha Incident. Microorganisms from Mars make your brain explode when you fall asleep. Charlie is irretrievably boring. That's pretty much all you need to know about it. The 70s were an unfortunate decade in many ways.

Moving from literal explosions of fictional brains to metaphorical explosions of real ones, mine exploded yesterday when a group of Austrian tourists asked me for bus directions and a couple of "helpful" Russian ladies chimed in. My rudimentary German vanished in an instant, replaced by rudimentary Russian. I found myself unable to communicate. I'm grateful the Latina women in the next seat forward didn't add their two cents. I would've had some serious Alpha Incident going down. If an Orthodox monk had shown up and started speaking in Church Slavonic, I wouldn't have been responsible for my actions.

Also, my brain is in hyperactive mode right now. Masters exams this weekend. CA Supreme Court decision rumored to be coming on Thursday (tomorrow). Too many things at once and I can't focus on any of them. Rather like yesterday's linguistic experience, but with lives instead of languages.

I will now try to fall asleep listening to "Elaine Stritch Radio" on Even if I fail, it'll be delightful. And my brain will remain intact.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Seeing red

There are some people who make me angry. They are relatively rare, but when I happen upon them, my wrath knows no bounds. Tonight I was reminded of one particular object of said wrath who makes me fantasize about acts of violence I would normally abhor. I have never met him, but if that meeting should occur, the red I am metaphorically seeing would quickly become more literal. And wetter. And flowing freely from his nose.

Moving in a slightly happier direction, a red that is somewhere between literal and metaphorical. My shoulders are a shade of pink that is normally not found (externally) on a human body. This is a result, of course, of neglecting to put on sunscreen, but in my defense, I didn't think I was going to need it to sit in a car. Little did I know that instead of sitting in the car, I was going to be peering under its hood on the side of the road in the municipality known, accurately enough, as the City of Commerce. I now have a vastly improved knowledge of the inner workings of 2003 Mazda Proteges, as well as such related topics as the color of antifreeze and the plot of Desperate Housewives. Which was playing on the TV at the garage. Long Beach Pride, sadly, did without me and El Nico, the owner of the Protege in question. My shoulders, as sadly, did without protection from the sun, and now might be described as resembling those of a lobster, if lobsters had shoulders.

Speaking of lobsters, Teenagers from Outer Space!! Quite possibly the best film in existence. I'm sure I've written of it in the past, but tonight the She God of Shark Reef and I saw it on the big screen with two short films by the same director and a Q&A by the man who is trying to piece together the director's odd history and work.

-Teenagers from Outer Space was filmed mostly in Hollywood, about 1.5 miles from my apartment?

-The lobster in question, who plays the monstrous Gargan, was dead at the time of filming?

-The actor playing Derek, the hero, was director Tom Graeff's boyfriend, and he mysteriously disappeared the year the film was released and HAS NEVER BEEN SEEN SINCE?

-Graeff, while at UCLA, made a 22-minute short about the joys of fraternal brotherhood that impressed the school enough to let him graduate despite various academic woes?

-The film was originally supposed to be about Derek falling in love with an Earth boy instead of an Earth girl?

Okay, that's enough for tonight. My eyes are growing as red as my shoulders, and I needs must close them if I am to continue seeing with my current laughable acuity in future.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Week 7

Sometimes I hate the quarter system.

This is one of those times.

Is it mid-June yet?

Monday, May 11, 2009

For a change

As I've been too busy to blog, I've been similarly too busy to keep up to date with The Nation. So I'm attempting to catch up by reading the May 4th issue, which arrived some time in late April as is the magazine's wont.

Shockingly, I really connected with Alexander Cockburn's Beat the Devil column, Dead Souls. The man is usually so far beyond the obnoxious level that even if I agree with what he says I can't stomach admitting it. But this week, or rather last week which actually arrived the previous week, he had a lot of good shit to say and didn't piss me off more than one or two times, and those mostly out of habit.

Life without the possibility of parole (LWOP) is unbelievably shitty as an option for someone's sentence, especially in light of how rarely lifers with the possibility of parole get out. Since the link apparently takes you to a subscribers-only page, I'll give out for free some of his numbers:

In 2007, there were approximately 30,000 people serving life sentences with the possibility of parole. The parole board found 172 of those people "suitable for parole." Then the Governator reversed 115 of the parole decisions, sent back 18 for further review, and "modified" (what that means I have no idea) 2. Leaving a whopping 37 people serving life sentences who got a chance at parole.


What is the benefit, then, of a sentence of LWOP, if it makes a difference only in, say, 15 out of 30,000 cases? The psychological harm it does to a person to let hir know that ze will be there forever is noted and, I assume, empirically verified (big assumption, I know).

I was having trouble wrapping my head around these numbers, so I translated the number of people into a number of days. Imagine getting two or three weeks off from work every 100 years. This is the scale we're talking about.

I don't have a solution to the prison-industrial complex to offer. Maybe y'all do; I'd love to hear 'em. But it's important, I feel, to remember that people who commit crimes are still people.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Blogging again

I fell off the blogging wagon for a while. Things have been pretty crazy in my life, what with organizing, classes, teaching, family health issues, and a creeping general malaise that strikes from time to time and makes things harder than they ought to be.

I will strive to do better. This is important to me.

To reacquaint myself with the blog, a word or two about teaching.

I received my teaching evaluations from last quarter. Generally, pretty good. A few said I was condescending. One thought I was absolutely awful and needed to learn to teach, and I'm very curious who that was, but I'm not too concerned about the outlier.

The condescending thing, though, worries me. I struggle, teaching college students, to assess when they are to be treated as adults and when as students and when (always) as both. Sometimes they make it awfully hard to treat them as adults.

Today I was reminded of how adult they are, and of how unimportant their classes can seem at times. I wish they didn't have to go through the shit that they sometimes have to go through. I can't imagine handling it myself.

I'm going to be making an effort to treat them as grownups, even the ones whose writing reads, to me, as somewhat juvenile. They deserve it.

In other news, Trader Joe's makes chocolate-covered peanut-butter-filled pretzels. My life may never be the same.