Saturday, December 17, 2005

Just add water.

How is that you can give someone a grocery list full of items and they return with a bunch of snack foods and other assorted crap that doesn't actually help you make a meal out of anything?

This baffles me. This is why I buy food for the house. Clearly, the other person with a car cannot be trusted.

But maybe I'm being too hard on her. After all, I've never seen her cook a damn thing since we moved in here. How would she know that snack foods aren't meals?

Dani is leaving soon, and our new roommate, Miss Ashley, will be entering our strange universe. I can only hope that she will adapt well . . . or we will completely scare her off. One of the two.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

You gotta work blue.

(Dave Chapelle is on TV in the background)

me: You know . . . I don't really like any black comedians.
heather: Dave Chapelle?
me: Not funny.
heather: Chris Rock?
me: Chris Rock is really smart, but if he weren't so damned annoying I might like him.
heather: Well, what about Richard Pryor or Eddie Murphy? Ok, like, 80's Eddie Murphy.
me: Maybe a little 80's Eddie Murphy. And I don't really know Richard Pryor's stuff.
heather: What kind of comedy do you like?
me: I like Jewish comedy a lot.

(About five minutes of silence pass as we change channels. We come across Triumph the Insult Comic Dog on Conan.)

me: Well, I do like Triumph.
heather: Stevi . . .Triumph's not black.
me: He is a rottweiller. Of course he's black.
(Heather stares at me incredulously.)
me: Oh, come on, he has black fur!
heather: Oh, I am so putting this on facebook.

I've missed your sweet clacking.

I have returned from the darkness that is the loss of the internet. A new adapter has finally been purchased, and I may begin again to chronicle my Costanza moments as well as the cooking adventures we embark upon.

Soon I will regal you with tales of: Cambodian food, raging dykes, Danish food, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, Egyptian food and the porno I bought my coworker for Christmas.

But not tonight.

Tonight, I write Christmas cards.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Bee Box Revisited

I want to personally extend my thanks to poet Lowell Parker who added his poem in a comment on my post "The Bee Box." I read his poem some years ago and it came to mind again when I saw the sparkly peach mummified bee ring at a jewelry vendor on campus. I'm very glad he provided the text so that others may read it and understand the sacrifice that love ought to be. I've reposted the text below so you won't have to search through the comments for it. Thank you, Mr. Parker.

"The Bee Box"

In this small box, my love,
you'll not find a ring,
but instead, a brave, little bee.
He'll be dead by morn, having given his life
defending his flowers against me.
I felt his sting
while picking the small, purple pansies
growing wild along the roadside,
in hopes of an afternoon bouquet for you.
And I grieved the sting,
more for him than me,
knowing full well the price he paid
for my small pain.
And I allowed him his victory,
leaving his flowers as a memory,
and brought you instead
this brave, little bee,
who proves there is love
even in the smallest
of things.

-Lowell Parker

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Not Your Advert Whore

Due to the fact that people are using my comments section for their own devious purposes, I've changed my comment policy.

I realize that the internet is a public forum, but comments are intented for commentary (hence the word), not for advertising.

B is for Britain

Pip-pip, cheerio and all that rot.

We have successfully pulled yet another international meal out of our asses, or, rather, our tiny oven.

The Menu:
  • Cold Cucumber Dill Soup
  • Creamed Artichoke Hearts
  • Coronation Chicken
  • Bangers and Mash
  • Cinnamon Plum Crumble
  • Blueberry Scones
  • Tea

I would like to state, first of all, that I am the soup master. Yet again I made a soup out of something you would not normally expect to be a soup. Granted, cold soups are meant to be palate cleansers, so something made from a crisp-tasting cucumber seemed a natural choice. You've really just got to taste this stuff. We still have a bunch left over.

The coronation chicken is a British excuse for a chicken salad. It's literally shredded chicken, onions, mayonnaise and pureeded apricots. It's deceptively good. All it's missing is bread.

This was my British discovery: with the exception of the bangers, everything we made could be eaten by people "wif no teef." Hmm . . . sausages and foods meant to be gummed? You do the math, people. I see what those dirty Brits are up to.

Right now, I've a Shepard's Pie in the oven.

Monday, October 24, 2005

A is for Argentina

In one of our typical post-midnight kitchen chat sessions, the roommates and I hatched a brilliant plan to learn about the world by having one international food night each week--that will be prepared entirely on our own through recipies we find on the internet.

We started with Argentina.

And we pulled it off.

The menu:
  • Sopa de Manzanas
  • Empanadas (chicken and cheese)
  • Argentinian grilled eggplant
  • Flan
  • Argentinian fruit salad
  • Sangria
  • Red wine

It was a pretty amazing feat. None of us had ever made anything on our menu before, but somehow everything was entirely edible. (Though, the flan did take two tries and didn't turn out so much as flan but as a sort of cakey custardy thing.) Corey made the empanada stuffing, while Kirsten covered herself in flour and kneaded dough. Cassie and Heather figured out the flan. I made the apple soup all by my lonesome. Cassie grilled eggplant while Corey and I fried the empanadas. Dani made fruit salad while I conjured up a pitcher of Sangria and Liz photographed the entire event.

We all dressed like tango dancers and listened to crazy latin music.

If we can manage Argentina, I think we can take on the rest of the alphabet with the greatest of ease.

Next week, Britain, including shepard's pie, bangers and mash, spotted dick and other naughty-sounding taste treats.

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Drag Party

This is all the crazy shit you missed.

30 people in my apartment. Hotboxing the bathroom. Jello shots. Lady-boys. Fabulousness. 7-in heels. Crotch-socks. Absolutely nothing straight allowed. Moustaches. Stuffed bras.

A party so good, the cops had to shut us down.

After all, it's not a party until something gets broken.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Obey or suffer the consequences.

These are things we do not do.

1. Name our children after superheroes. I suppose that naming a kid "Bruce Wayne" or "Peter Parker" or even "Clark Kent" wouldn't be so bad . . . but Kal-el? Nicolas Cage is a Piasano . . . only someone who actually knows Hebrew should be allowed to do this and have anyone respect them.

2. Have sex with Katie Holmes.

3. Rename products to demonstrate your sensitivity to global catastrophes. Case in point, I was at Jamba Juice the other day and I ordered that I thought was a new item, a Strawberry Surf Rider. Only after I ordered it and tasted its strawberry goodness did I realize that something was terribly wrong. I knew this taste. This taste belonged once to the Strawberry Tsunami! I understand the need to be culturally sensitive, but, fuck, tsunamis are not going to cease just because there was one really bad one. Should we rename all carnival rides called "hurricanes" and all little girls named "Katrina" as well? It's one thing to remove the Twin Towers from Spiderman because of 9-11, but to attempt to remove any evidence of a natural phenomena? Something about this is a little off.

4. Park in my space when all I want in the world as I return from work at 1 am is my parking space and a peice of fucking cake. (Yes, in the whole world, that's all I want.)

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Jenrikay's Music Tag

I've been tagged, and I am probably going to give her the strangest responses she'll ever see.

1. "Coin-Operated Boy" by the Dresden Dolls
2. "Hallelujah" by Rufus Wainwright
3. "Save My Soul" by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
4. "These Words" by Natasha Benningfeld
5. "Shiksa Goddess" as performed by Norbert Leo Butz, from Jason Robert Brown's wonderful, wonderful, wonderful little show The Last Five Years

You couldn't get past this without at least one song from a musical.

Be suprised that there aren't more.

Monday, September 26, 2005

The Bee Box

I stopped by the vendors who like to entice me to spend more money at my University than I need to only because I heard Mercy trying to talk herself out of large earrings.

I promptly talked her back into them. "Mercy" and "downsizing" are not words that belong in the same sentence.

She tried to talk me into earrings. This is Mercy. This is what she Does.

Instead, I saw one of those giant plastic pseudo-mod/semi-rave rings with a bee inside it.

I was immediately lovestruck. And it was $3.

It is peach, with sparkles, a mummified bee inside it, and it is in the shape of a heart. It reminded me of a poem I read once, "The Bee Box," in which a male lover wants to get flowers for his beloved, but finds that he gets stung by a bee in the process. Noticing how the bee bravely chose to give up his life to protect the thing he loved (in his bee way), the man decides instead to give his beloved "this brave little bee, who proves there is love even in the smallest of things."

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Wide awake, despite appearances.

Received a note in the mail today from Mr. Cardoza that was written on a peice of paper he'd found in his desk . . . with a quote I wrote down sometime after I (inevitably) must have had a breakdown in his office. My quote read: "I think I'll be better when I get out of high school because then I can learn to, like, sleep."

Ironically, this arrived today. Of all days. I got about 5 hours of sleep last night, woke up at 8 am, was in class until 4:30 today, and then had a film screening from 6-8. And I cannot sleep yet because I have to hang out at work while we get our floors waxed.

I still haven't learned to sleep.

Am I better?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


This is the progression of hellish plumbing events that occurred on Saturday, September 18, 2005 at the Colonial Apartments in Isla Vista, CA:
  1. Apartments 13 and 14 flood during the early morning hours.
  2. I wake up at the crack of noon and find that we have no hot water--which is highly unusual because our building doesn't have legitimately cold water ever.
  3. This progresses towards us having no water at all because the plumbing in the two flooded apartments needs to be fixed ASAP. (Note: This was not a good thing because I was not feeling well and it was very hot in our building that day, both of which would have been fixed by a shower.)
  4. At about 3:30 PM, we get water again and all three of us at home take showers to revel in the glory of running water.
  5. Now Dani and I cannot get our water to turn off. We have a scalding hot bathtub for about an hour until one of the plumbers on-site can get a chance to fix it.
  6. My sink is backed up and it takes literally two hours for a sinkful of water to drain down. Plus, the garbage disposal spits food up the other side. Wonderful.

Everything is back to normal by today, but nonetheless, Saturday's plumbing disaster was horrible. I have never been so happy to do dishes as I was this morning.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Ring-a-Ring O Roses

Marcus and I are up in Ashland for the weekend. Tonight's adventure was Kit Marlowe's Tragikal History of Dr. Faustus in the Elizabethan Theatre.

So, the Elizabethan Theatre is, as the theatres in Shakespeare's day were, open air.

Ashland is, as Northern coastal states are in September, prone to rain.

I am now a resident of Southern California. I no longer own real shoes.

All of this is a recipe for my tiny little body to have a true Elizabethan theatrical experience.

It drizzled on and off throughout the course of Faustus, and I, in my lack of warm clothes and vastly inappropriate shoes, was soaked to the bone by the end of the show. Therefore leaving me, as well as other members of the audience, the possibility of returning to our hotels to develop pneumonia/catch the plague and die.

But aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

Here's how Marcus and I summed up the works of Kit Marlowe:

Me: You know, all the funny bits with Robin and Wagner didn't really come across on the page.
Marcus: That's because Marlowe isn't funny on the page. In Edward the 2nd, someone gets a spear shoved up their ass.
Me: Now that's comedy!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The God of Small Things

Heather and Miyuki are here, and they've come bearing massive amounts of small but wonderful gifts.

Miyuki brought us all little gifts to say, "Thanks for letting me stay with you because the University screwed me out of housing." We all received a little paper folding cup-thing with various designs. Mine, naturally, is red. She also gave us all a small notebook, and these things truly are the Way to my Heart, notebooks and the like.

Heather, after 5 months in Japan, returned with a host of little goodies for each of us. We all recieved a sake cup, a soup spoon, and an individualized rice bowl. We all also got two fans, one with a cultural design, the other with a Disney character because the Japanese are evidently all about Walt and his creations. (Cassie got Ariel because she loves mermaids, Dani got Marie from the Aristocats because that's her middle name, and I, naturally, got Tinkerbell. Jen also got Tinkerbell, but that was more of a default "there were only 4 designs" kind of thing. Hers is not as awesome as mine.) We all got a Japanese candy, and from there the gifts begin to vary. Jen got two great Engrish shirts and a pair of Japanese Ped socks, which Japanese girls wear with their high heels. Her pair is brightly striped. Cassie got a lot of weird-ass arcade items, because she asked Heather for 'random crap,' and an Engrish shirt that Heather said reminded her of fart jokes. Dani got an Engrish shirt that actually made sense, as well as a purse from Hiroshima that was hand dyed. Dani and I also got hairclips, which was odd, because we both have short hair. My Engrish shirt was the most awesome of all, though. It is a white tank top with piles of pink glitter over the letters that reads: "I can't dance / I'm a bad driver / Fuck rockn & roll / I like to jerk off / Spiga jeans girl." And I am totally wearing it to class tomorrow.

Heather also brought each of us a unique cultural gift. Dani received a geisha doll, Jen a lace fan used in tea ceremonies, Cassie an opium pipe, and I got a Japanese calligraphy stylus.

I could not be happier. Last night, I was sleeplessly perusing eBay for antique pens because I hadn't acquired any new ones since Venice last summer, where I purchased a lovely red glass pen with changeable nibs. I found a couple of unique antique ones that I'm vaguely interested in, but this pen is just what I needed. It's the first Japanese pen in my collection, and, to go along with it, Heather bought me what turned out to be a marriage record book, which is intendd for a married couple to record their wedding and the fruits of their union. I am going to treat it like a pillow book, because, in a way, that's what it is. Regardless, it's lovely, and the absolute perfect gift for me.

These small things are the way to my heart.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Do not touch the electric third rail.

The fact that my landlords are ridiculously bad at explaining things is very problematic.

Somehow, they keep finding more and more ways to suck money out of my bones as though it were chewy tasty marrow and they starving junk-yard dogs.

There has been a green sheet of paper sitting around my apartment for a week with some kind of inexplicable charge on it, which, naturally, no one has investigated and it becomes my duty to do so on my day off because I am Responsible.

Evidently, we were supposed to have called and changed the billing name and address for our non-included electrictricity. When I moved in two months ago, you think they would have told me this. But no.

So now, in addition to the extra 60 dollars they started charging us on our rent every month to include the originally non-included cable, I owe them $23 for July's electric. And I owe the electric company an $80 dollar security deposit and another $12 dollars for changing service.

I cannot get a fucking break from these people. And if they would just do their tennants the service for telling them shit, I would be far more prepared for the slow draining of my resources.

Friday, August 12, 2005

The Rise and Fall of Kevin Bacon

Work last night = totally awesome.

Tyler, Josh and I played the movie game for a good hour and a half, interspersed with running returns and helping customers as punishments for lost rounds. Josh and I totally schooled Tyler, but Josh stumped me really well when I couldn't name anyone else in Swept Away besides Madonna, who linked us to that damned crappy movie in the first place. (Really, could you, off the top of your head, name the Italian man in that movie?)

Then Tyler and I played 6 Degrees until close. Well, to be fair, it was mostly Tyler giving me challenges, because I'm much better at it than he is.

These were my 3:
1. David Carridine : Robert De Niro
David Carridine was in Kill Bill with Darryl Hannah, who was in Splash with Tom Hanks, who was in Forrest Gump with Robin Wright Penn, who, besides being married to him, was in Hurlyburly with her husband Sean Penn, who co-starred in We're No Angels with Robert De Niro.
2. Helena Bonham Carter : Bruce Willis
Helena Bonham Carter was in Fight Club with Brad Pitt, who was a sexy drifter in Thelma and Louise with Susan Sarrandon, who was one of The Banger Sisters with Goldie Hawn, who was in Death Becomes Her with Bruce Willis.
3. Topher Grace : Cary Elwes
Topher Grace romanced Scarlett Johannsen in In Good Company, and she was in Lost in Traslation with Bill Murray, who played a ventriloquist in Cradle Will Rock with Cary Elwes.

My job is awesome.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The snowy plovers cry for us tonight.

I am well aware that my university's reputation as a "party school" vastly precedes any other reputation it may have. However, I don't believe that the current decision by AS Legal Resources to allow the fraternity Kappa Sigma to use the university's name for its new calendar is going to help the University of California, Santa Barbara in its life-long quest to bolster its academic reputation and extinguish the party school stigma.

Though I am a feminist, I am not offended by the images from the "Girls of UCSB" calendar that have been posted on this website thus far. I rather like pin-up art, particularly pin-up art from the 1940s. I feel that the pin-up actually controls the male gaze, rather than being controlled by it. I not-so-secretly want to be a 1940s pin-up. Like everyone else, I like to look at beautiful women. I like to look at women in general. I even have a subscription to Maxim.

The biggest problem I have with this calendar is the use of the university name. We are an academic institution that has had 4 Nobel Laureates chosen from our faculty. Playwright Naomi Izuka teaches here. Stephen Hawking visits our Physics department regularly. This calendar and the AS Legal Resources people's decision to allow the university name on this calendar is certainly not helping us to promote the academic merits of UCSB. It's promoting everything that we don't need to promote.

It doesn't matter that portions of calendar sales will be donated to the Shoreline Preservation Fund. If the university name is going to help preserve the shorline, it would be better done through a direct donation from the university or, perhaps, Kappa Sigma and other student groups could go out and clean-up beaches instead.

I'd like to believe that everyone who decides to attend college is doing so because they truly want to, because they are genuinely invested in their educations--not just because college is the thing you pretty much have to do in order to get ahead in the world and maintain the lifestyle to which you have become accustomed. Unfortunately, I know that the reality is the latter. People go to college because it's what you do. The natural progression of things. High school, college, career, marriage, babies, more career, retire, die.

The function of higher education is not to party in Isla Vista, and that's the general image of my university that this calendar is helping to promote. I do party in Isla Vista, but I'm here at UCSB to foster academic criticism and participate in a scholarly community of ideas. I'm here to continue to live a life of the mind.

The Kappa Sigma "Girls of UCSB" calendar is not helping the university, and those of us who are truly invested in our academic lives, separate itself from the surrounding community of Isla Vista. And I could not be more sad than I am right now to learn of this backward step taken by AS Legal Resources in further entwining the university name with the party school stigma.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Lead-based paint chips are indeed good for your health.

Realization: I have not yet posted about the glorious oddities of my new apartment. This shall be rectified.

Item 1: I have no idea who could have possibly wired our house. We technically have no real lighting in this place. We have two cute little contemporary/art deco style wall lights in the kitchen, a hall light of the same style, and matching lights in each of the bathrooms, plus vanity lights in the bathroom. But that's it. Seriously. The bedrooms do not have lighting systems at all. Just really large windows, which don't do me a lot of good at night. Now, about the wiring . . . in those rooms that don't have lighting systems, there are curiously still light switches. What exactly are they for? The two light switches in my living room turn on the lights in my kitchen, the light switch in my kitchen doesn't turn on anything, and the other light switch in the living room goes to the hallway light. What? Also, there are three switches in each bathroom: one for the vanity lights, one for the light, and, presumably, one for the fan. One switch does indeed light the vanity, yet the second switch turns on the light AND the fan while the third switch sits on its ass and does nothing. I think my apartment was wired by Sarah Winchester.

Item 2: I just realized today that the wall separating the living room from Jen's room (aka The Den) is not a wall at all. I always found it odd that it was made of plank wood when the other walls weren't, but only today did I knock on it and notice that the boards BENT INWARD as I did so.

Item 3: My bathroom doesn't really get cold water. The hot and cold taps are switched on both sinks, yet the "cold" tap becomes scalding hot after a minute of running.

Item 4: My ceiling is crooked. It is very hard to hang things.

Item 5: Dani's side of the room does not like things to be stuck to its walls.

Item 6: When I first moved in, my garbage disposal would chew up food, and then spit it up the other side of the sink where food is most certainly not supposed to be.

Item 7: Due to the layers and layers of paint that IV landlords heap onto the walls/doors/cabinets of their rental units every time someone moves out, half of the doors in this house either will not shut or will not open without serious application of force.

Item 8: There might be a ghost who really likes to change the channels and volume. Yesterday, I was hanging things in the living room listening to VH1, and suddenly, the TV was turned to a Nascar race.

Maybe its a good thing Mrs. Winchester's people wired this place with confusing light switches.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


Dani and I spent the past weekend hangin' in the East Bay with exchange students from Norway, Sweden and Holland. And that shit was gangsta'.

I convinced my mom and dad to get exchange students through Lions Club because having a cool host family is a key part of the exchange experience. Two of my Italian host families were awesome, and that made my time trapped in their small mountain towns awesome. So my parents offered up their house to Sara and Mirjam from Sweden and Holland, respectively. Our friend and fellow Lion Bill had hosted a couple of years ago, so my parents convinced him and his wife Darlene to do it again. They got Rebecca from Norway, who does everything with our girls. I think my dad and my like having the girls around, since I'm not home anymore. My dad really loves schmoozing and being with young people. (I mean, he is a teacher, after all.) So I think they both are really enjoying the company of these young ladies.

Dani and I arrived Thursday afternoon, and Thursday night we took our foriegn girls to their first American baseball game. It was also Dani's first baseball game. So after a lot of explaining of rules and strategies, I think my Dad and I managed to clarify the game and got the girls into it. We took the girls to another game on Sunday, during which Sara told the man sitting in front of her that she was married to Jay Payton, the Rockies' left fielder we got in the Eric Byrnes trade. Everytime Payton made a play or came up to hit, this man would look over at her to see if she was paying attention to her "husband." My family sits in the section right next to the wives and family section, so we know for a fact that when baseball wives come to a game, they are not even paying attention to the game at all. I don't think I've ever seen Alex Chavez even notice her husband (with all his Golden Gloves) make a catch or get a hit. In any case, this dude totally believed Sara. Which was pretty funny to the rest of us. Unfortunately, Sunday's game went into extra innings--5 extra innings. So after 5 extra innings, Bobby Kielty hit a long ball to right field just over the wall to win. Finally! I think the girls all liked baseball, but extra innings was a little much even for someone like me who goes to a lot of games.

On Friday we went to Muir Woods and Stinson Beach--two places to which, in my 18 years of Bay Area residency--I have never been. Naturally, as I never go swimming or to the beach at home in the bay, I did not bring a suit. So I fell asleep in the sun at Stinson and burned the back of my calves very nicely. That night we went disco bowling up at Travis and no one in the bowling alley could figure out why Dad and Bill were hanging out with 5 college girls. The music wasn't loud enough at the bowling alley, but Sara and I were nonetheless trying to dance like Beyonce when "Crazy in Love" came on.

On Saturday, I took the girls shopping on Telegraph. European money is worth so much here, and my money worth so little there, so the girls had a lot of vacation cash to spend as everything seemed cheap to them. They found some cute clothes to wear that night to the Lions Club installation dinner, at which their presence was required. Before dinner that night, Bill had us hunt for District Governor Walter's wedding ring out in the rock garden where he had lost it earlier that day. Walter promised us $300 if we found it, and found it we did--after only 4 minutes of searching. (Word from my Dad is that Walter paid the girls yesterday, so $120 dollars is coming down to SB for Dani and me via mail.) The dinner itself was super-ass long and boring, so Dani started passing notes around the table.

When the Lions dinner was over, we headed into San Francisco to hang out with my best friend, Eric. Eric had planned an evening out dancing for the girls . . . but we wound up at some weird 80s club where only 30-year-olds were dancing to the worst 80s music ever. And this place was rated one of the hot 18 & Over clubs by SF Weekly . . . And we found this out after waiting about 30 minutes for our second cab to arrive at the club! In any case, we all had a really good time. I think Rebecca had the best time out of all of us because she was only 17, so we snuck her into the club with my military ID.

Dani and I had to leave on Monday, but we went with the girls to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory before leaving. They're all such cool girls it was a difficult good-bye. Sara wanted us to stay until Saturday, but, unfortunately, we both have to work. We miss them already, and I hope they had a good time with us!

Friday, July 01, 2005

Stuff I've Been Reading Vol. 4

Books Read:
The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes--Neil Gaiman
Y: The Last Man--Unmanned
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay--Michael Chabon

Books Bought:
The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist Vol. 1--Michael Chabon et al.

This month's theme is comic books. As finals approached rapidly and I spent all my time desperately trying to finish heavy peices of modernist prose at May's end, I decided to start reading graphic novels. And, in reading the aforementioned graphic novels that I had borrowed from my friends in the winter, I decided that the one novel I should pull off my jam-packed bookshelf would be Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.

I don't actually know why it took me so damn long to sit down with Sandman. I borrowed it from Corey on my birthday in January, and it sat on my desk unread until June. As to The Last Man, Cassie's boyfriend brought it over when they started dating in April and it sat on our table until every last one of us had read it.

Here's why I adore the graphic novel: the graphic novel is the link between books and movies. Graphic novels employ cinematic cuts and "camera angles" to emphasize the active and emotive qualities of the story, as films do, but relies on a literary format to do so. They're thicker, generally, and more complex than comic books, often dealing with incredible mythologies (like Sandman) and more adult subjects (like The Last Man) than their comic cousins. Comics and graphic novels, alike, though allow their readers easy access to complex themes and provide an introduction to basic literary conventions. They're also much easier to digest on the whole.

Sandman Chronicles I think most readers have heard of. And I can now personally vouch for the merits of Gaiman's characters and his stories. The art in it is beautiful: a nice blend of gothic style with classic comic drawing. It's a great graphic novel for those who like the resonance of Frank Miller's naratives (specifically through repetition of phrase), but with a touch of Baudilere under them. I liked them, but I liked The Last Man much, much more. Let me begin on The Last Man by introducing some topics that recurr throughout the first issue: feminism, gendercide, gender issues as a whole, american politics, Jewish mysticism, and sources of power. Also, there is a monkey. The Last Man is the story of Yorick, the only man to survive a strange and sudden plague that eliminates anything with a Y-chromosome . . . except for Yorick and his male monkey. This turns the world into chaos. Supermodels have no purpose in a society with no male gaze. (They can now only make money by collecting the dead bodies of single men who rotted away in their apartments.) The Secretary of Agriculture is now President. And a brigade of feminist "Amazons" who believe that the man-killing plague is a sign of male inferiority and the female right to rule are taking over the land. When I finished the first issue of The Last Man, I immediately wanted to find the successive issues. It is an incredible character driven, theme-laden narrative that addresses so many crucial social concerns. I was thoroughly impressed. (Also, the cuts leading up to the man-plague are so intense I can barely begin to describe them.)

It's nice to think about the fact that The Last Man's Yorick is introduced to us as an escape artist, because that is also how we are introduced to Josef Kavalier in Chabon's Kavalier & Clay. Escape worked so well as a central motif on which Chabon chose to hang his story. If there's one thing I can say for Chabon it is that he writes a very tight story. Nothing is extraneous. "Escape" certainly isn't thrown about lightly. It is the one word that both Kavalier & Clay understand. For Josef Kavalier, like thousands of other European Jews before WWII, escape was the only means of survival. Josef manages to escape because he is a trained escape artist, schooled after America's most famous immigrant, Harry Houdini. It is Joe's escape from Prague and Nazi rule that inspires the comic book character The Escapist, which ties nicely into his American cousin Sammy Klaymann's world of escape: comic books. Sammy's dreams of escaping his current lifestyle and polio-ridden legs are invested in the masked heroes that he and his cousin create. The Escapist encompasses both men at once. This is exactly what I mean when I say that Chabon writes a tight story. It goes on to be more complex, with more escapes of many other kinds: escapes from traditional family roles, escapes from traditional lifestyles in general, escapes from reality and from life (though this is more of a Houdinian disappearing act than anything else).

Kavalier & Clay is a long read, true, but it is so well written that one is constantly driven forward in the narrative. I find recently that I am increasingly dissatisfied with the ends of novels. I realized reading Kavalier & Clay why that is. So many novels I read tend to stop in the middle of something, with no sense of finality. You can get away with this if you are Zora Neale Hurston and end on a beautiful metaphor as in Their Eyes Were Watching God, and, naturally, if you are Toni Morrison you can get away with this as well by ending on a beautiful sentence. If your point is that there is no finality, I think this is also acceptable. However, when a book doesn't have a great finish and just fizzles out (like Life of Pi), I lose my faith in the entire book. Thank you, Chabon, for writing me a definitive and beautiful ending. Chabon chooses to end on the names of his protagonists written hastily on a calling card, and this is a powerful image to end such a colossal and moving book. So much of Kavalier & Clay relies on faith and dream, and I could not be more pleased that Chabon allowed his readers to keep theirs in his book.

What's also pretty damn cool about the Kavalier & Clay universe is that two subsequent volumes of comic books related to the novel were published. I came across The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist Vol. 1 in Copperfield's up in Calistoga just sitting there on the sale rack. I grabbed it immediately as I had not two days before finished Kavalier & Clay. Escapist Adventures includes Chabon's origin story, plus several other stories written and illustrated by current comic artists that fill in some of the stories to which Chabon alludes, mostly to define the changes in the way the character was drawn over the years. The edition also includes a few Luna Moth stories done in extremely different styles: one in Rose Saxon watercolors, for instance, and another drawn in 1950's pulp fiction style, which was my personal favorite. I'm told that Vol. 2 features the infamous Escapist punching Hitler cover, and I look forward to acquiring it.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Jesus . . . ham sandwich

I just hope that everyone noticed that on tonight's episode of Family Guy, Jesus had a painting of sheep in his living room.

It could only be better if he also had a painting of a messenger--nude.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Big S, little a, little n, big D, little e, big E with a star.

Edan Dekel is the coolest person I know.

And he is soon leaving the bay area to start a professorship at Williams' College in Massachusetts.

I am so glad that I got to spend the afternoon with him today. We spent about 4.5 hours just talking in a restaurant in Larkspur, slowly annoying the hell out of our waitress for simply being there so long.

This is what happens when you get together two people who are exceptionally gifted at running their mouths.

I am also so amazed that Edan always treats me like a friend and intellectual equal--especially today. He told me when I saw him last summer that I could hang out with him anytime, and I didn't have to crash his summer classes to do so. And I was really touched at that. Today, he told me that he was glad his other lunch plans cancelled because he really didn't want to see them, anyway. I got their coveted Thursday afternoon timeslot, and I am very lucky to have received it. He said he was glad he didn't have to rush our conversation.

Conclusions we came to over the course of our discussion:
1. David Hyde Pierce is the Tony Randall of our era.
2. Steve Martin is genius.
3. LA Story is one of the best movies ever written.
4. Seth McFarlane may be the most seminal man of the "Aughts."
5. Junior High is designed to make girls feel bad about themselves.
6. People who say that high school was the best time of their lives clearly never went to college.
7. I would look really good in one of those epilepsy helmets that Natalie Portman wears in Garden State.

God, I'm going to miss Edan.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

With a soundtrack by Billy Joel.

The only thing that displeases me more than people who don't keep appointments is moving.

I really, really dislike packing my life into tiny boxes. I hate it for the reason that I have too many things, and that I cannot decide which things should go in which box. It's very difficult for me to sort through my mass of commodities.

For the first time in my life, it's not just a question of choosing what to leave at my parents' house and what to take with me, but a question of what I should put in storage. Some of this is simple enough. For the three weeks that I'll be squatting at Mom and Dad's in the quiet hamlet of Crockett, I won't need my futon, my profusion of alcohol paraphernalia, my TV, DVD and VHS players, or the entertainment center on which they sit. I also won't need plates and dishes and toiletries. Those amenities are provided for me where I'm going.

There is, however, an extremely difficult choice in deciding what clothes to bring. I am a costume designer. I have an obscene amount of clothing. I rifle through my closet here and have already decided to purge it of a few things. I have rid myself almost completely of long skirts. But what do I see fit to lock in a shed for a month? Winter clothes are obvious. But there's really no need for me to bring home every dress, shirt, pair of pants, pair of shoes, skirt, top, or jacket I own. And the idea of limiting my clothing is really unsettling. I mean, the reason I have so much random crap is the following mentality: "This peice is really unique. And besides, you never know when you're going to need a bright teal 1950s-style diner waitress dress." You really just never know. This is mostly just a giant inconvenience in my eyes.

What really tears me up is knowing that I have to lock up all my books and journals and a good deal of my writing instruments in storage. I know I won't be using them when I go home, so I understand the necessity of this, but the idea of locking these things up, knowing that I won't be able to grab a book of the shelf and read or reference a poem in conversation, this is maddening. The quills, though, I could never bear to lock away in storage. Even more than some of my favorite clothes, these things I cannot have outside of my immediate care.

Not to mention how stark my room becomes when it is stripped of things. The room just looks . . . sad. Even hotel rooms put cheap art on the wall to give us the comfort of commodity. We all need a few decorations to brighten our sad lives.

My only comfort in all this packing is knowing that these things will not remain away from me for long. In July, I get a new apartment that will be so much less sad than this stale little room.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Stuff I've Been Reading Vol. 3

Books Read
Quicksand--Nella Larsen
Nightwood--Djuna Barnes
Orlando--Virginia Woolf
Sideways--Rex Pickett

Books Bought
I have spent too much money on Moon Hamlet this month to afford more books.

I actually really liked all three of the books I read for Modernism this quarter. Each one plays with gender, class, and identity in very different ways, and each writer approached these subjects with such a distinct voice. Nella Larsen was richly descriptive, Djuna Barnes lyrical and poetic, and Virginia Woolf cheeky and oddly witty. Larsen's novel is probably the most traditional and accessible of the three. Barnes' only grows particularly strange toward the end. Woolf's Orlando, though, requires many stretches of the imagination just to allow the story to take place. I liked them all, but I think the first half of Nightwood is significantly better than the second half. Read on for things I find interesting in each novel; I will come to my comparative analysis of the film and book versions of Sideways, later.

The thing that most interests me about Nella Larsen's Quicksand is the emphasis on commodity, consumer culture, and how these things play into race and gender. As a costumer, I obviously ascribe to the adage that "clothes make the man (or woman)." Quicksand certainly plays off the cliche. I have this theory that clothing is what equates class and status because without clothing we would all be naked and equal in our nudity. (Obviously, commodities other than designer duds also emphasize class, but for the sake of my tiny fabric-covered world, and Helga Crane's, allow me the distincting between the two.) Larsen spends ample time in Quicksand describing the lush fabrics of Helga's garments compared to the drab, harsh fabrics of those of the other "Naxos Negoes." Helga is shunned for her style, as those in Naxos try to assimilate drab Saxonness as much as possible. In Chicago and Harlem, the brightness and lushness of Helga's dress is sometimes paled by those of other fashionable black women. She is obviously not high class among the black women of those cities, but, through her dress, actually does fit in quite well in those social circles. In Copenhagen, though, fabric and color are celebrated on Helga--practically poured over her to illuminate her glorious difference from the Danes as much as possible. (Like Josephine Baker to the Parisians in the '20s, so is Helga Crane to the Danes in Quicksand.) She is allowed to dress as a woman of high stature, despite her blackness, and perhaps is allowed to be much more decorated because of it. When Helga returns to America and finds herself in the Bible Belt, her love of color is once again shunned. She is even called Jezebel for wearing a red strappy dress to church. Clothes indeed make the man. And clothing enacts class, status, and performative race in Quicksand better than any other commodity Helga Crane could possible acquire.
(As a sidebar, I'd like to announce that I all kinds of trumped this guy in my English class who wears 3-piece suits on a daily basis last night when we were studying. He disagrees with me about clothing enacting class "because most milionaires these days wear jeans and t-shirts around the house" and "I can wear a tux and go about high class social circles, but those people will know that I'm not like them." Both of his points reinforce mine: clothing enacts class and status. I asked him why he wore 3-piece suits every day. He said they are comfortable. I told him that virtually no man finds suits comfortable. He went on to explain to me, a costumer, that his suit is a brown suit worn without a tie, so it is technically a weekend suit, therefore a casual suit that can be worn daily. I replied that I would accept that as an answer if this were 50 or 60 years ago. I know the suit hasn't changed much since the 19th century, but one thing that certainly has changed is that the suit is not casual wear. "What exactly are you trying to convey about yourself through suit-wearing?" I asked. He could not reply. He knows I'm on to his game. He's not really a philosopher-poet, he just dresses like one.)

Woolf's Orlando is also a lot about fashion, particularly when Orlando reaches the 19th century. Reading Orlando requires so many stretches of the imagination, as Orlando lives roughly 300 years but does not grow any older than age 36. Also, at age 30, somewhere under the reign of King Charles, Orlando wakes up one day a woman. He is exactly the same person, just a different sex. The book turns on androgeny and class and poetry. There are so many thematic layers in Orlando, yet, curiously, nothing really happens in it. It's very clever, nonetheless. Woolf has a lot of fun playing with genre (Orlando's subtitle is "a biography") and sex. Her lover, Vita Sackville-West, in fact, was the model for Orlando both in character and in the portraits interspersed with the text. The book handles fluidity of identity better than Todd Solondz' fim Palindromes ever could--even if he had executed it well. And I would recommend that if you want to understand how time and identity are fluid things that you read Virginia Woolf's Orlando instead of giving Todd Solondz any of your money for his poorly made, overly ambiguous, apparently "non-issue" abortion movie that "explores the fluidity of identity" in such a half-assed manner that, were Woolf alive, she would slap him in the face with her lengthy tome and tell him to read Orlando.

As I am interested in women who deny constraints of femininity, Djuna Barnes' Nightwood was entirely fascinating--for the first half. I was much less interested in the second half of the book where all of the characters Robin Vote has destroyed seek solace on the couch of Dr. Matthew O'Conner, who likes to wear lipstick and wigs and monologue about his problems with his kidneys and how he wishes he had been a woman. Robin Vote is such an interesting woman to me because she cannot be tied down. I am always fascinated by women who can leave their children, by cold mothers and unfeeling wives. I am even more fascinated by women who can kill what they create--perhaps why Toni Morrison's Beloved is my favorite book of all time. To call Robin a woman really isn't accurate, though. She is "a thing caught in a woman's skin." She merely enacts femininity, or, rather, denies it. She leaves her husband and son and takes up with two female lovers, whom she usually deserts at night to wander in the dark dressed as a man. Robin, not a woman, but posing as one, then performs masculinity through her cross-dressing. Really, she is this wild and unattainable thing, who finds more communion with her lover's dog than with any human character in the book. Perhaps this is why her name is Robin, not only gender neutral, but species neutral, as well. She is a "thing caught in a woman's skin," called by the name of a bird. Nightwood is definitely bizarre, but Barnes' prose is achingly poetic, and that alone is worth the read if Robin Vote isn't enough for you.

So, Sideways.

First of all, the film is a helluva lot smarter in the book. The book is entirely lacking in the "wine is a metaphor for people" department. From this, I have to say that Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor certainly have the souls of poets, because they added something to the story that Rex Pickett for all his screenwriter-turned-novelist "I'm gonna write a book for once!" gumption missed out on entirely.
Second of all, Sideways as a film, aside from the aforementioned improvements (and a serious change for the better in terms of plot toward the end of the book) is a very faithful adaptation. The characters are adapted dead on, and most of the scenes in the book make it to the film in tact . . . except for the things about that book that were clearly intended to make a very different kind of movie adaptation. For example:
  1. Early in the week, Miles and Jack decide to let a local take them hunting. Crazy local starts shooting at them, and Jack and Miles rob him, beat him up and strike a deal with him that they won't file a report if he agrees to chauffer them and the lovely Terra (Stephanie in the film) and Maya around the Pinot festival the day before Jack's wedding. The payoff is satisfying, and crazy gun-toting local Brad is redeemed, but there was absolutely no reason for this to be there. Taylor and Payne omitted the Pinot festival anyway, so I'm glad they decided to leave out bear-hunter Brad.
  2. While Maya does like Miles and is interested in him on her own, Jack pays her $1000 to seduce Miles on a double date that never makes it into the film. In the book, this is a pretty sexy scene, involving lots of crazy-expensive wine being poured on Maya's crotch, but I commend Payne and Taylor for removing this god-awful twist. This is not a twist book! And what kind of person would take $1000 dollars to seduce someone? The problem with this twist is that 2/3rds of the way through the book, we are suddenly only able to like Miles because Terra is easy, Maya is now a "whore" and Jack is a pimp with no morals. Until that twist, I could sympathize with Jack wanting to have one last affair--the book is essentially a week-long road-trip bachelor party--but when a character I like and sympathize with turns a nice woman with no overt sexuality into a whore, it's kind of a huge problem with character consistency.
  3. Needless to say, Maya only confesses that Jack whored her out after Miles confesses to her--next morning, post coffee and pastry--that Jack is getting married on Saturday.
  4. Terra just disappears! After threatening to kill Jack with the shotgun he pilfired from Brad, Terra only manages to get into a slap fight with him and claws his face. How weak little Terra is constructed. And after all this, she disappears. Maya never even mentions her again. I'm not pleased with Terra's disappearance or her character construction in the book at all. Congratulations to Payne and Taylor for allowing Stephanie to beat the shit out of Jack for lying to her. They created a much stronger woman who can dish out exactly what she can take.
  5. The injuries that Stephanie gives Jack in the film are, therefore, slowly incurred over a series of minor scrapes.
  6. At the wedding, Miles dances with newly-wed Babs the costume designer (Christine, the lovely Armenian trophy wife in the film) and Babs asks if Jack fucked anyone over the course of the trip. Miles refuses to reply and Babs simply says, "Well, if he did, tell him we're even."

I was disappointed in the book. The twists that Pickett creates are good for film, not for literature. Either way, they are clearly out of place in this genre. The film adds a certain artistry and poignancy that the book lacks--and I would not have expect that at all. Congratulations, Payne and Taylor, you turned a bottle of Two Buck Chuck into an '82 Latour.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Moon Hamlet is a harsh mistress.

I have been doing nothing but sewing for Moon Hamlet for the majority of this week. The highlights of today were as follows:

1. Watching Christiana bang open keyboards on my patio such that I may extract their flexible circuitry to attach to Opheliatron during her mad scene. Christiana scares me a little bit. She owns a hatchet. And she is quite tiny. I would fear for my safety if she didn't generally like me so much. She was kind of like a crazy, crazy otter banging abalone wildly on rocks and such to extract the succulent vittles inside. It was about the coolest thing I saw all day.

2. I sewed together pants for 2-headed (and 3-legged) mutants. I am so useful. Cassie and I put them on and walked around the house just to make sure I'd done them right. They are quite ridiculous. Nonetheless, I am so useful.

3. Corey worked the huge pile of knots out of my shoulders. Well, most of them, anyway. I don't expect to lose the knots entirely until after finals, but a massage certainly helped for today.

Our last tech rehearsal is tomorrow night. It will also be our first one with complete dress. Tomorrow night is going to be very interesting. And I am very behind in everything but Moon Hamlet.

Take pity on me. See Hamlet on the Moon. Little bits of my fingers are lovingly sewn into each garment!

Thursday, May 12, 2005

I've been waiting for someone like you.

I am yesterday's Neighborhoodie of the Day!

I am awesome!!! So next week, everyone must vote for me because you all love me!

Also, I don't know why I didn't check neighborhoodies yesterday. I missed my moment in the sun. But I've yet to really reap the benefits, here, so look at my shiksa glory and vote next week for me.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Stuff I've Been Reading Vol.2

Books Read
The Supermale--Alfred Jarry
Nadja--Andre Breton

Books Bought
The Pat Hobby Stories--F. Scott Fitzgerald
One Hundred Years of Solitude--Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Long Ranger and Tanto Fistfight in Heaven--Sherman Alexie
Orlando--Virginia Woolf
Nadja--Andre Breton
Nightwood--Djuna Barnes
Quicksand & Passing--Nella Larsen
Women in Love--D.H. Lawrence
The Supermale--Alfred Jarry
Heart of Darkness--Joseph Conrad
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim--David Sedaris

In Quills, the Abbe de Coumier says of the Marquis' incessant scrawling, "It's a poor writer who produces more than he reads." How doomed am I? For I certainly buy more than I read, though I rest still within the bounds of the Abbe's warning. I certainly do not produce more than I read. Ever. But when my ratio of books read during a given month pales in comparison to the amount of money I have spent on books during that month, there certainly is something wrong with the picture.

I'm afraid that, due to my sheer lack of time here in the collegiate world, I was only able to finish those books which were required for class. Jay once told me that people who like to read shouldn't become English majors because they will no longer be able to read for pleasure. And he's definitely right in the sense that I don't have time to read anything that I won't be graded on.

Nonetheless, The Supermale and Nadja are certainly interesting texts. I really liked them both, though I think The Supermale is much easier to digest than Nadja. Supermale is a really cool anti-technology story filled with booze and crazy sex and machines, which I read as a novel that warns us against the dangers of our technological dependence, but there's a lot more to it than just that. I've already written a paper on it, so that's all your getting out of me here. It's a definite must-read if you enjoy bizarre science fiction stories from the turn of the century.

The reason I say that Nadja is much harder to digest than The Supermale is simply because it's a Surrealist work. It's purpose is to defy understanding. I've gotten two things out of Nadja: more fuel to the argument for the power of the female muse and a new favorite name. Nadja tells Breton in the novel that this is the name she has chosen for herself because it is "the beginning of the Russian word for hope--and it is only the beginning."

Just to defend my absolute inability to enjoy the written word, let me remind you all that I am not simply a slacker. I am costuming a show. And it has taken over my life. I live in my Denmark sweatshirt and little bits of thread. Parts of my fingers are lovingly sewn into every garment I make because I don't own a thimble. And I suck at historical-comparative linguistics. So most of my time is divided between sewing and problems that take entire days to solve. I did read 2 stories in Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim while waiting for David Sedaris to sign my book (which, after two stories, I gave up on) and I am almost finished with Rex Pickett's Sideways. Almost.

Monday, May 02, 2005

I, too, sing the praises of customized fun.

My new favorite thing is I've known about the Neighborhoodies since way back when they were a much smaller company that particularly specialized in printing things with your hometown on them. (Last year, the roommates, Nikki Ferry and I joked about getting Neighborhoodies tees with "Stockton," "Hawthorne," "Loyalton," and "Crockett" on them. This never came to fruition. Mostly, I don't wish to publicize that I am from Crockett.) Now, the company has seriously revamped itself and offers a whole host of things that were previously unavailable, and fully customizable.

Recent purchases from Neighborhoodies include:
  1. A little blue t-shirt with the words "shiksa goddess" emblazoned on the front in white.
  2. A brown collared sweatshirt with a rampant lion and the word "Denmark" on the back.

The Shiksa shirt was something I deemed I needed after listening to The Last 5 Years. Marcus had taken to quoting parts of the song to me, usually:
"I'm your Hebrew slave, at your service
Just tell me what to do."
"You, you are the story I should write."
The Last 5 Years has become such a very important show to us, and listening to "Shiksa Goddess" makes me so incredibly happy. It plays in my head all day when I wear the t-shirt to promote my absolute un-Jewishness.

As for the Denmark sweatshirt, I have wanted one ever since I saw that Rachel Rose (LMU's Ophelia in the Ron Marasco Hamlet) was wearing one. Granted, her's was white and technically a track jacket, but nonetheless, I definitely wanted one. Taking this job, costuming Hamlet on the Moon, made me think that I definitely deserved a Denmark sweatshirt. So I shelled out the cash to finally buy myself something after all the money I've shelled out to support Moon Hamlet.

Moon Hamlet is a harsh mistress, who spends all my money and puts me to work for what feels (at times) like no reward. But now that I've got my gangster sweatshirt, I can say that I at least got something more out of this than just a credit to my growing design resume.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

He gave an inch when I gave a mile.

Things I hate:

When people don't keep the appointments they have made.

When people don't notifiy the affected party that they are breaking said engagements.

I have too little precious time to waste on those who do not deem these things necessary.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Merci pour le chocolat.

The boys who work at the Trader Joe's in Goleta are continually straddling the line between simply being very friendly and straight out hitting on my friends and I. They tend to ask too many questions, regardless of whether I am alone or with the group. Examples of said questions for the group situation might be something like "So, do you girls have any plans for the weekend? / Going to any good parties this weekend?" and things of that nature. Entire conversations will surround those questions. When I go by myself to Trader's, I am usually just getting off work or on my break, therefore, I wear the lovely Hollywood Video purple shirt. I usually get this kind of question: "So are you just off work? / Any good movies this week?" Innocent enough. However, I am sometimes recognized outside of the purple shirt by several of the Trader Joe's boys. When that happens, I get the following: "No Hollywood today? What're you doing this weekend?" The pattern ensues. We are never sure if the Trader's boys are simply being friendly or trying to get themselves invited somewhere with us. I like to assume they are simply being friendly.

The man who made my sandwhich at Subway tonight was not simply being friendly. When he inquired what I would be doing with my evening once I got off work, I replied, "Oh, probably just renting movies, going home, and going to sleep." To which he replied, "Nah. Don't do that. I should come with you. We can watch some movies, sure, but you wouldn't sleep." Were I not completely taken aback by this, I think I might have had something clever to say. Instead I said, "Nah . . . I don't know about that." And decided to eat my sandwhich in my car rather than stay in the restaurant. I cannot eat sandwhiches there fore a good long while. I'm sure sandwhich dude meant no real harm by it, but I am sufficiently creeped out.

One nice thing, though, occurred after the sandwhich incident. I shrink-wrapped some movies for this Russian boy so he could return them to the store from whence they came. He insisted on paying me for the favor. I refused to take $5 from him just to shrink-wrap something, considering we hardly use the shrink-wrap anymore so it's completely worthless to the store. After my refusal of his cash, he asked me what kind of chocolate I liked. I intentionally told him that I liked dark chocolate because we do not sell any dark chocolate and I didn't want him to give me anything for such a simple favor. I turn to shrink-wrap the videos, and Russian boy is gone, but his friends are still in the store. He comes back about 5 minutes later and hands me to giant bars of Hershey's Special Dark and thanks for me doing him the favor. "Thank you, but you really didn't have to buy me chocolate. Really." And he just waves his hand at me in that universal "No, I insist" gesture.

There really is no ending to any of these stories. It was just so odd that a routine work night that began with the traditional odd niceties from the Trader's boys wound up being infused with one of the absolute creepiest things I've ever had said to me. (Which. by the way, reminded me vaguely of this one time where a boy at the student store at UC Berkeley read my "Bad Kitty" t-shirt and, when I told him jokingly I tended to scratch up furniture, said "Scratching furniture, huh? Breaking headboards is more like it.") This sandwhich incident was definitely unsettling. I mean, I'm flattered. Really. I'm glad this dude thinks I'm pretty, but I am not legitimately creeped out by him. I'm actually much more flattered that the Russian boy was so dead-set on giving me something in return for the favor that he went out and searched for my favorite kind of chocolate. I suppose a good point of summation would be the following:

1. It is okay to straddle the line between niceties and flirtations if you work at Trader Joe's.
2. It is absolutely not okay to blatantly hit on a customer while you are making her sandwhich--especially when you do so by inviting yourself to her place to prevent her from sleeping in the manner of your choosing.
3. Russian boys are very nice boys.
4. Chocolate is an acceptable form of payment for any favor.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Exchange rates.

My parents have just informed me that they are getting two "sisters" for me over the summer, which is to say that they will be hosting two exchange students for two weeks. They will be getting a Japanese daughter and a Sweedish daughter. Unfortunately, I will be in classes back in SB when they arrive. So I promised the parents that I would come home for the weekend when they arrive so that I can take them dancing and shopping in San Francisco.

The parents might then bring them down to SB to experience SB with me. Oh, let the international fun ensue . . . I'll have an extra bedroom over the summer . . . why not?

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Avoiding Responsibility.

So, I've been super busy with work and school and costuming a show. Hamlet on the Moon is going to be really exciting, especially because there are robots, and robots are cool. Moon Hamlet is also my first huge costuming project for the theatre. Thus far, I've been lucky enough to get readymades for my 2 film projects, but with Moon Hamlet, I have $230 worth of crepe satin to sew and about three weeks to sew it all in.
With that said, I present you all with another random thing I stole from Jenrikay's blog:

A - Age you got your first kiss:
B - Band listening to right now:
Louis XIV
C - Crush:
Jewish guys like my fiance
D - Dad's name:
E - Easiest person to talk to:
Marcus, followed by my roommates Jen, Cassie and Heather
F - Favorite bands at the moment:
Louis XIV, Head Automatica, David Byrne
G - Gummy worms or gummy bears?
I really don't enjoy gummy candies.
H - Hometown:
Crockett, which, coming from Highway 4 after dark, becomes the swinging hotspot of
"C ock tt"
I - Instruments:
I used to play piano and lap harp, but I actually have no musical talent
J- Junior High:
St. Patrick School
K - Kids:
I love kids! My cute kid story of the week involves this absolutely adorable one-year-old girl who was in the video store with her parents. She was absolutely serene--a fucking angel. Not a peep from her . . . until she let out this random screech and then was silent again. Her father looked at her and cooed, "Awww . . . are you a Nasgool?" I thought that was so awesome. Really, who compares their child to a flying dragon creature from LOTR?
L - Longest car ride ever:
my last trip to LA, which should not have been a 7 hour drive, but due to LA traffic and a storm on the Grapevine, it was
M - Mum's name:
N- nicknames:
there really are too many to list, and most of them are only applied to me by one person at a time
O - One wish:
To publish.
P - Phobia[s]:
clowns, squirrels, failure, stupidity
Q - Quote:
"I miss his pretty white points."--Toni Morrison, Beloved. I put this one down only because I've been reading slave narratives from the Romantic period, and none of those accounts capture slavery as well as Toni Morrison in Beloved. Maybe it's just the 18th century writing style that turns me off, but the above quote absolutely fills me with chills--unlike anything I've been reading lately.
R - Reason to smile:
I made two shirts today for Moon Hamlet, and they are shiny!
S- Last song you heard:
David Byrne's "Miss America"
T - Time you woke up [today]:
9 am.
U - Unknown fact about me:
D.H. Lawrence turns me on.
V - Vegetable you hate:
Fucking peppers. Fuck peppers.
W - Worst habit(s):
worrying too much, getting frustrated with things that are beyond my control, being too forward, my stupid mouth
X - X-rays you've had:
Teeth, and I've had a couple CT scans and an MRI--which is the most frighteningly close to an alien abduction I'll ever be
Y - Yummy food:
Silvergreen's potato cheddar soup, curries from Nirvana, sukiyaki, pizzocheri, my dad's sketti sauce, braised green beans, spicy tofu from Hunan Villa
Z - Zodiac sign:

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Hair products galore.

We are sick of being blondey pink. The locks have been lovingly smothered in some brown shade called French Roast. The shade lives up to its name. I think I look rather sultry, if I do say so myself. Others seem to take to it. I make a good brunette.

Picasso, on the other hand, is not such a good blonde. Graham requested that he become the standard bleach-blonde Laurence Olivier type Hamlet. I whimpered, but complied because you do what your director wants. So we died Picasso's hair after fittings on Saturday. Dark haired boys are not meant to be blonde! And we have to keep bleaching so its perfect for the show! I just keep getting these flashbacks of when we tried to die Greg Montoya's hair grey for some anime convention and he, olive-skinned half-Mexican Greg, had bleach-blonde hair for months thereafter. Dark haired boys are not meant to be blonde!

Blonde haired girls, on the other hand, do make fetching brunettes.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Stuff I've Been Reading

In an attempt to be more like British author Nick Hornby (who is 3 for 5 in the books-turned-into-movies ratio), I will now publish a monthly column of Stuff I've Been Reading.

Books I've Read:
How to Be Good--Nick Hornby
Kennedy's Children--Robert Patrick
Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates--Tom Robbins
Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For --Frank Miller

Books I've Bought:
The Bell Jar--Sylvia Plath
Ariel--Sylvia Plath
Wintering, a Novel of Sylvia Plath--Kate Moses
Sideways--Rex Pickett
Will in the Word--Stephen Greenblatt
House of Leaves--Mark Z. Danielewsky
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay--Michael Chabon
Ash Wednesday--Ethan Hawke
Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For--Frank Miller

It's amazing that I've finally read all of Kennedy's Children now, after knowing every bit of Carla's part for a good four years. It's a great character play, composed entirely of monologues. A challenge for actors in terms of making each of these characters (especially Sparger) real and a challenge for directors in terms of staging. No character interacts with another (modernist isolation?), so the challenge to a director is to keep this play from being boring to watch. Essentially, the success of the show is determined by just how enthralling your actors can be. I still think Carla and Rona are the best characters in the play, and I still want to play Carla. Again. I also think that, given the uncertainty of our political situation, Kennedy's Children is an excellent way to remind people of the past. There is no Camelot, there are no stars, and the new kids are no use.
Frank Miller is fabulous. All the beauty of a graphic novel with the grit of detective fiction and the themes of noir.
As much as I want to be like Nick Hornby and am half-assedly emulating his monthly rag on books from The Believer magazine, I really don't want to be like Nick Honrby. I've got to say straight off that How to Be Good is certainly not his best. It, like the other book I managed to finish in March, Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates, attempts to answer grand questions about goodness and spirituality, but the inherent problem in trying to write books about these grand questions of spirituality and goodness is that they are unanswerable questions. Thus leaving me with two books with wholly unsatisfying endings. The Hornby novel takes a very domestic approach to the Grand Questions. It explores the practical means of goodness and spirituality through the eyes of a scientist in a marriage that is rapidly falling apart--until her husband meets a street kid spiritual guru with turtle eyebrow peircings. Hornby's argument in all of this is rather basic: we shouldn't be too hardhearted, nor should we be too softhearted; goodness is measured on an individual level and we can only give what we ourselves don't need. The book had far too simple of scope and far too simple a thesis to receive the kind of praise it was given on the jacket cover. Tom Robbins' novel, on the other hand, we definitely much more interesting than Hornby's in the way it chose to deal with the Grand Questions, but nonetheless disappointing in the end. The ultimate question posed in Fiece Invalids through an intense discussion of the Fatima prophecies (and Robbins' speculation at what the 3rd unknown prophecy might be for the purpose of this book) is the following: which religion will bring the most spiritual satisfaction to the greatest number of people? Along the way, former CIA agent Switters visits several countries, lusts after his 16-year-old step-sister, meets the model for Matisse's Blue Nude, eats his grandmother's beloved parrot, makes love to two defrocked nuns, and receives a shaman's curse that renders him unable to set his feet on the floor. Women love these fierce invalids home from hot climates. By exploring the recent interest in a Marian view of Catholicism, Robbins sets a much more convincing background to attempt to answer the question, and comes up with many great witticisms along the way. However, the question is never really answered. At all. I was really disappointed in the ending, not because the Grand Question went unanswered (because that was arguably on purpose: no greater force can bring us joy/wahoo, we must find that in ourselves). I was more disappointed that the Switters story had come to an end when there was so much more about him that I wanted to know. Maybe just five or six pages more. Some resolution is all I'm asking out of this book. I suppose I just have to make my own wahoo out of the ending.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

I am not above star-fucking.

On Easter Sunday, I sat in James Wong's living room and listened to him discuss his problems finding a roller coaster for Final Destination 3. This was naturally proceeded by a discussion of my favorite X-Files episode ever, "The Field Where I Died," which he wrote. James Wong is just the most laid back guy. And he's James Wong! I like knowing people who are known but not Olympian Diety Brad and Jen / J-Lo and Ben status.

Robert Wuhl of Arli$$ is also really chill. And a complete history nerd. But I did not sit in Mr. Wuhl's living room discussing his current work. My fiance' just interns for him. I met Robert in a comedy club in Hermosa Beach after his set, which was a much shortened version of a lengthy comedy-history lecture that he has been touring colleges with and is trying to get picked up by HBO. Robert's thesis for this premeire lecture--entitled "Assume the Position, with Mr. Wuhl"--is that we must assume the position that history is pop culture, and that when a legend becomes fact, we print the legend, therefore propigating the continual miseducation of American schoolchildren. It's totally intriguing, and occasionally hilarious.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

There is a charge, a very large charge for a touch or a word...

I heart Sylvia Plath.

And indeed there is a very large charge for a word, because I am a fucking master-mistress of rhetoric.

I just finished a huge paper--can you tell?

The paper on cross-dressing? So last week. I just finished my gigantic term paper for my linguistics class. I don't know how well received it will be, as my research was not exactly discussed at any point during the quarter, but I think it's pretty solid and I should get points for originality. I backed things up with text. There are quotes from people who are much more knowledgeable than I am. I made pretty tables. I think I'll be okay.

Now all that's left is my equally gigantic term-paper, due Friday, on T.S. Eliot's "The Wasteland."

I feel quite on top of things, though. I'm on page three (single-spaced) of that one, and there really are no limits as to where I can go with it.

I am not worried.

On the topic of words, though, I must admit that with spring there's come a sort of renaissance for me. I'm reading again--for leisure, not just for class. I wrote a few lines of poetry the other day. I'm journaling--physical and etherial-internet journals alike. It's as though my life had been possessed by someone, something other. I'd been reading a Nick Hornby novel since December. What had become of me? I don't quite know where I was, but in picking up the pen, in my feverish scrawling and my obsessive purchasing of books recently . . . I feel like I'm back in my own skin.

This is what I do. This is why I have a quill tattooed on my ankle. This is why I want words carved into my back like The Woman Warrior.

This feels right.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

An immune system would be really nice right now, she said.

My body had to revolt against me sometime.

I'm sick. Crazy body aching sore throat possibly the flu sick. All I have done today is read and sleep.

I am still sweating out the fever.

I'm under the impression that buying things online would make me feel better. Really, I think that being able to hold my head up for more than an hour would make me feel better.

And some stolen soup from the dining commons.

And my fee, but that one's going to be much harder to come by than commodity, culinary delights, and correct posture.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Stop the world I wanna get off.

Item: Medical Condition rears its ugly head. The people at the DMV are complete retards. I have apparently been driving with a suspended license since October. No one at the DMV saw fit to notify me. We are in the process of corrections. This is complete bollucks.

Item: The Ethan Hawke version of Hamlet from 2000 is interesting, and not always in good ways. Hamlet should never be an hour and forty minutes long. Nor should Julia Stiles ever be in any movies at all.

Item: Papers. Three. One complete, titled: "The Last Time I Wore a Dress: Cross-Dressing in Twelfth Night and The Merchant of Venice." Other two incomplete. One, still untitled, on African-American speech patterns. The other, titled: "I Do Not Find the Hanged Man: Divination in T.S. Eliot's The Wasteland." I feel burned out and exhausted, but something of a true academic. I'm supposed to stop eating and sleeping in the best interest of the field of literary criticism, aren't I?

Sleep is much desired. That or death.

I need to stop reading Sylvia Plath.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Shameless Self Promotion.

Come see . . .
The Vagina Monologues
Friday and Saturday
February 18 & 19, 2005
at 8 pm in UCSB's Campbell Hall
Tickets are $8 and are available at the AS ticket office.

All proceeds will de donated to Women in Iraq, Domestic Violence Solutions and the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center.

We promise women moaning, lots of mention of the word "vagina" and a special transgendered peice that was just written this year for the show by Eve Ensler. (The latter of which I am in and am thoroughly excited about.

Monday, January 31, 2005


I am so grown up.

I just paid my deposit and signed the first part of my lease for my new apartment.

I am so grown up.

And it is absolutely amazing. 2 bedrooms, 2 bath, with den. New floors. New fluffy blue-grey carpet. New paint. New fridge. New stove. Spacious rooms. Interesting planked ceiling that makes the room a little nautical.

I move in at the beginning of July.

This is really the only joy right now in my overworked, joyless life.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Mind blowing.

I just explained what oral sex was to my grandmother.

Grams: I was watchin' this progrum on younguns havin' sex. And they said that kids as young as 13 were havin' sex and that if they weren't havin' sex they was havin' oral sex. I don't even know that that is!
Stevi: Really?
Grams: Well, no, honey, I don't know about things like that. Do you know what it is?
Stevi: Yeah, Grandma. It's when you pleasure your partner with your mouth . . . instead of your . . . vagina.
Grams: Really? That's what that is? You'd put your mouth down there? My God, I can't even imagine doing that.

Previously, we had been talking about preserves.

Stevi: Grandma, I can't believe I just had a conversation about oral sex with you. Weren't we just talking about preserves? How did we go from preserves to oral sex?
Grams: Well, they're both sticky!

Grandma is so on top of her game.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Of little importance.

Recent Developments:

  • Old people backed into my car yesterday, and let me tell you, the old are just as untrustworthy as anyone else. They insist that the nice new bumper-exposing dent in the back of my car was not possibly made by them--despite how fucking hard their huge Oldsmobile may have smacked my car, also despite the fact that the would be backing up on a downward slope, they insist their bumper is too high to hit where it hit. Whatever. They will die soon. And I know that I was a Good Person. I also know they are assholes because they did not even go to check out my car when they hit it, nor did they leave me a note. I repeat that they will die soon. And I am the Bigger Man, though the Sicilian in me wishes them 4 flat tires in the middle of a crowded intersection.
  • Vagilogue time draws near. I have so much shit to print.
  • Overabundance of work, mere pittance of sleep.
  • I hate Ezra Pound. I thought I liked him, but then I read some of the Cantos and decided that, not only is he a total fascist (which we all knew), but that he is also an elitist dick. Yes, switching languages and writing systems in the middle of a poem is kind of cool and interesting, but continually making highbrow references that do not further the message or the content is not cool. I refuse to forgive him, even though he begs me to do so in one of his dying Cantos. It is cool, however, that his middle name is Loomis.
  • We have found an apartment! Off-street parking, gated pool, spacious everything, new floors and new plumbing, $380 a month for five people once Heather returns from Japan, and $475 until then--utilities included. I am so grown up.
  • I met my idol from musicals of the 1940's on Friday night, and she is still just as funny and talented as she was then. Oh, Betty Garrett, how I love thee.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

I'm the green fairy.

Birthday extravaganza took place on Monday, January 3, 2005. 2 chocolate rum cheese cakes, a chocolate cake and a giant Grand Avenue Apple (covered in chocolate, nuts and caramel) were consumed. Also consumed were many Accountants (preferred drink of the girls of 1307: 1 shot of vodka, 1 shot of peachtree schnapps and Martinelli's apple cider; etymology: Marty Schnapski, Your Accountant). Also consumed was an entire bottle of Absinthe. 2nd bottle apparently will never arrive. $60 dollars lost to lying business men. I'll live. But maybe they won't . . .

Good times had by all. The Best Friend and others came down from the Bay area to spend my birthday drunk with me. Best Friend is quoted as saying the following, "You know you've been at a good party when you find your phone the next morning inside the bagel box." His phone was indeed found inside the bagel box.

Cool New Aquisitions:
  • Pretty ink stain on my ankle, commonly called "tattoo." Purchased for me by the Best Friend.
  • Abstract painting of an Absinthe bottle, courtesy of Corey, made especially for the occasion.

Photos of me being cool and boho can be found here.