Thursday, November 30, 2000

[Day With(out) Weblogs].

      >> 11:34 PM

Almost 11 am. And I thought I was getting such an early start on my day.

      >> 9:50 AM

Wednesday, November 29, 2000

Ah. There's nothing like returning home after a long day to a hole in the floor. This is so interesting, having just watched [The Hole] in which the central metaphor is a hole in the floor of an apartment. Our kitchen floor hole, however, does nothing to connect us to alienated neighbors or create social meanings at the turn of a millenium. What it does do is expose the guts of this building. And it makes me think about how so much of production (and consumerism?) is about masking the messy innards of our lives and machines. Sinead O'Connor sings in one of her songs, "I do not want what I do not have." I think her message is that she does not succumb to mass marketing/mass entertainment as prescribers of desire. But something else that might be pointed out is, "I do not want to see what I want." We stick the messy wirings/plumbing of our buildings behind walls, place the messy computer parts in aesthetically-pleasing boxes (look at the Mac cube!), etc.

Of course, packaging working parts in more pleasing containers is not necessarily a bad thing. However, problems can arise when the workings of these things become fetishized (as with Marx's commodity fetish and capital). Another analogy might be: "Ignore the man behind the curtain!" -- that moment at the end of The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy and her pals see that the supposed-wizard is just another man playing with lights and smoke. If we distance ourselves too totally from the way things work, we may lose all understanding of the inner-workings of our play-things and allow them to control us with a mystical power.

I haven't written about this week's [Buffy] episode yet. Soon, though, soon. Must go watch Law and Order now.

      >> 9:04 PM

So our kitchen floor has been demolished. The floor had been getting increasingly lumpy and squishy. So Joe called the apartment people and some maintenance men came in this morning to kill our floor. They tore off the vinyl covering to reveal a rotting floor. It was disgusting. Then they proceeded to stomp through the floor (there's a crawl space under our apartment) and saw away at the still-sturdy parts. I now live in a construction zone.

      >> 2:32 PM

Tuesday, November 28, 2000

Random thought while driving: What would driving be like if the exteriors of cars reflected the driver's emotions and intentions? Would it be easier to navigate traffic (like walking through crowds)? How exactly might this surface/exterior look?

      >> 1:37 PM

Ok, enough is enough, I can't go on, I can't go on, no more no...

I don't think I would make it as a professional graphic/web designer. The details just eat up my time like crazy. I would never finish a project and either be fired from the design firm or if I were a free-lancer, not get paid.

      >> 10:08 AM

As I'm sitting here trying to figure out Cascading Style Sheets, I'm realizing just how much my parents did for me in terms of education. It wasn't just the usual school subjects that they exposed me to, but all sorts of knowledges. Way back in the first grade I remember after-school enrichment programs in LOGO programming and cooking (complete with our own measuring cups/spoons). And of course, there were music lessons and soccer and basketball practices. Just so much that they did to fill our lives with varied experiences.

      >> 9:16 AM

Semi-helpful CSS [tutorial]. Managed to homogenize my fonts, but now the links are screwy. Ah well. There's always something broken.

      >> 8:35 AM

Monday, November 27, 2000

I was a delinquent student today. This afternoon, I watched [Mifune] instead of working on class stuff. I had already rented the movie on Saturday. It was due this evening. I had to watch it. Mifune is a [DOGME 95] film, eschewing artificial lighting and props, sound overdubs, and a slew of other technical paraphernalia.

Here's an [interview] with director Soren Jacobsen.

The title name comes from the actor [Toshiro Mifune]. More on this film later. Dinner calls.

      >> 4:26 PM

Other elementary school memories: This one actually from the first elementary school I attended (first grade and part of second grade) before my family moved to our present home. I didn't generally have problems with bullies because I think I just avoided them. But once or twice, during recess, I remember being trapped in the restroom. We had single room restrooms next to the playground, and the door could be held shut from the outside by a group of mischievous boys. The room wasn't all that big, and being the claustrophobe that I am, I panicked quickly when I couldn't get the door open. Luckily for me, my twin brother must have been watching out for me because I remember the door finally opening up, and my brother standing there scowling at some of the boys who were standing around laughing.

Some time later, I remember thinking that I had been trapped again in the restroom. The door wouldn't budge and I thought I heard snickering outside. I almost panicked and started screaming for help. But then I realized I hadn't unlocked the door yet. So I unlocked the door and quietly and calmly stepped out into the hallway.

      >> 8:34 AM

Well, it's back to the drafting board (or word processor, as the case is).

      >> 5:53 AM

Sunday, November 26, 2000

Bang bang bang goes the trapped steam in the radiator. Die, radiator, die! The racket kept Joe up all night and made him worry about an exploding radiator. I was able to sleep pretty much until 7 am.

Yesterday was one of those rain deluge days. Made me think of Ray Bradbury's science fiction story, "All Summer in a Day." The basic story: Margot, a little girl from Earth, has just moved to another planet (Venus?) where it rains all the time except one day every decade or so. It is almost that day, the day of summer and sun, as the scientists have predicted. At school, the children and Margot go about getting their usual dose of UV light (in lieu of sunlight) to stimulate tanning and the production of vitamins. In class, the teacher asks all the children to draw what they think the sun looks like. None of the other children have actually seen the sun, so their drawings are fanciful, but not "real." Margot draws her memories of the sun from Earth and the teacher compliments her as they both reminisce about the sun.

The other children become jealous of this new girl with the special knowledge. They gang up on her and shove her into a closet, locking her in. The teacher of course does not notice. Suddenly, the rain clouds break and the sun comes out. The children gape in awe just for a second, then run outside into the not-rain as fields of flowers pop up out of the desolate ground. They run laughing and screaming, enjoying the sun and the flowers and the color. And then it ends, and they all reluctantly return to the classroom. And it is only then that they remember they have left Margot locked in the closet. Together with the teacher, they let her out, the one girl who missed all summer in a day. And this startling image of a young girl, tear-filled eyes, yet silent, being helped up off the ground of the closet into the dreary flourescent lights of the classroom. (Probably not from my imagination but from the [movie adaptation] we must have seen in class.)

This story actually brings back some memories for me. Back in the third grade, there was this girl who joined my class after the school year had started and then left before it ended. I always imagined her to be Margot, or very much like her at least. I have this image of her (both?), a tear on her cheek as she sat at her desk / emerged from the closet. I think she was the only kid who cried in class and it fascinated me. I don't remember why she cried.

I think her brother was in the class, too, but I don't think they were twins. In any case, I think I might have had a crush on her or something. I know I was intrigued by her and even provoked to a bit of jealousy because she seemed so smart. For example, she would do better than I did on our weekly spelling tests. And at one point, our teacher asked us to fold our hands on the table (was it a lesson on manners?). I and everyone else proceeded to fold our arms across our chests and lean our elbows on the table. However, she, this marvelous girl, intertwined her fingers, clasping palm to palm, and delicately placed her hands and wrists on the table. There was something mysterious about her situation, too. Was she a child actor, passing through the area in search of / in between work? I vaguely remember something about her parents. Perhaps they were world famous scientists or thinkers on a lecture tour of the country . . .

Actually, I have many random memories of the third grade class with Mrs. Crisp (what a wonderful name) . . . I remember misspelling "read" (the past tense of "read") because I just knew it couldn't be spelled the same as the present tense "read" (so I put down "red"). We did a play based on the [Paddington Bear] story. I played Mr. Brown. I think my one line was to exclaim that there must be a leak in the ceiling (as I look up) because water was dripping on my head. Mrs. Crisp gave me some orange marmalade (one of Paddington Bear's favorites) as a gift after the play (I think she was one of the earlier encouragers in my life-long struggle to be less shy). (If I remember correctly, this girl-Margot played the lead role of Paddington Bear--I remember her in a raincoat and hat.) Also, Mrs. Crisp at one point during the year lost her contact lens and asked us to help her find it. We all got down on the floor to look for it and I remember us asking her what a contact lens looks like. She told us it looks like a bit of plastic cling wrap. I don't remember if we ever found it.

And then, the saddest of memories, watching the Challenger space shuttle take off and then explode frighteningly on the television screen on January 28, 1986. I think we were all confused at first, unsure as to what had happened, unable to believe that such an experiment could go so wrong.

      >> 7:01 AM

Saturday, November 25, 2000

Just when I thought it would never happen, I ran into someone I know! Joe and I were at Francesca's Dessert Cafe last night meeting up with someone Joe had met. As we were chatting at a table, a young woman sat down at a table directly next to us and in my line of vision. She looked awfully familiar, but I couldn't place her. After a bit, I decided the woman just looked a lot like someone I knew. Then, she was joined by this guy, and I knew that she must be Julia (and the guy her long-time boyfriend Sean).

So I mentioned to Joe and Rob at my table that there were these people right next to us that I sort of knew. And I was wondering if I should talk to them or not. When I had finally worked up enough courage to approach them a little while later, I heard an, "Excuse me," to my left and there was Julia, asking if I were indeed Paul from [Yale] who lived in [Calhoun College]. We ended up catching up for quite a bit. She is new to the area, too, having started in the biology program at Duke this semester. Last year, she was in New Zealand studying frogs. She always had this wonderful way of talking about her research. If I remember correctly, she did her senior research project on polyps and gave an exuberant (second-hand knowledge--I unfortunately missed it) talk on it.

So, we exchanged contact information and I do hope that we'll be in touch more. She always seemed a fun and intelligent person to be around, although she was more friends with some of my roommates than she was with me. I remember once freshman year she came to our suite because she had locked herself out of hers while taking a shower. She spent the better part of the afternoon in our common room in a towel. Hee hee.

It also was good for my ego that she recognized me and came up to talk to me. I have a tendency to believe people never remember me, probably because it does happen so often. I went on a pre-orientation hiking trip with a group of eleven other new students, and I swear half of them didn't remember me when I ran into them on campus two or three years later in new contexts. But whatever.

      >> 8:25 AM

Friday, November 24, 2000

By the way, the impetuses for the previous post were various people's weblog postings today in response to [Buy Nothing Day] and Turkey Day dinner. Joe and I had a nice dinner at our friends Leon and John's new home. John mentioned almost incessantly his excitement about the prospects of going shopping today, especially for the early morning sales. To see such blatant joy in spending money was a strange sight. I know I buy things sometimes when I am sad, but this exuberance at the thought of buying things was very interesting. Of course, they have just moved into a new home, so they do have a lot of house-type things to buy.

I wanted to stop by the [Internationalist Books] event for today in Chapel Hill, but spent the day doing laundry instead.

      >> 6:01 PM

So the sweet potato pie turned out well. It's all sugar, but that's why it's good. Mmm . . .

Holiday Thanks: Spending this week and Thanksgiving Day at home with Joe. I've been hovering in one of those states of pure bliss, feeling that I could in fact happily spend the rest of my life in this one moment.

Something I'm trying to figure out: Can we imagine a "successful" material economy that is not based on constant growth and expansion? In light of the media-driven (just watch any US newscast today) dubbing of the day after Thanksgiving Day as the busiest shopping day of the year/holiday season, I can't help but wonder why it is that constant consumption and expenditure is such a big part of our economy and our lives. Sure, I know that my idea of a meaningful life would involve constant growth--a continual reaching out to others, continual self-reflection and change, and explorations of new situations--but can I accomplish this life without constant material acquisitions?

Not to fall into a purely utilitarian perspective of material goods, but should we draw a line at some point between what we need and the other stuff? It's clear that such a line is necessary, whether determined by one's checking account or by some other measure. I think that such a line should be determined by each individual and that it should be a conscious determination. In other words, the problem I see with rampant consumerism is a blind faith in expenditure as necessity (for happiness, growth, etc.). The problem isn't that people get pleasure from material objects, but the belief that pleasure only comes from material objects (a belief that is part-and-parcel of the media-defined economy in need of constant growth).

Putting into perspective: There are many studies out there about production and necessity. Many conclude that the United States produces enough grain/other basic foodstuffs to feed the entire world. So why are there so many starving people in the world (in and outside the US)? Isn't the right of every human being to live with enough to eat and adequate nutrition something to be protected and pursued? And shouldn't these concerns be more important for "successful" economies than concerns of consuming more per capita (though skewed obviously towards those with money) each fiscal year?

The work of [www.thehungersite.com] takes advantage of our consumerism to generate money. And I think work like theirs really helps to begin that dialogue and self-analysis about consuming and spending. It doesn't chastize and try to make consumers feel guilty. Instead, it states the facts of hunger as a worldwide problem. And it offers the beginnings of a solution by harnassing that ideology of expenditure. While it doesn't explicitly critique the concept of an economy predictated upon constant growth, it does shift focus from that production/consumption/numbers to a focus on other realities.

(My friend [Eric Friedman] is so much more articulate in a series of thought-provoking and thoroughly researched e-mails he sends out to his friends on these and other issues relating to human rights.)

      >> 5:42 PM

Thursday, November 23, 2000

Happy Gobble Gobble! Will be working on a sweet potato pie in a bit. Yum yum yum (at least in theory).

      >> 9:23 AM

Wednesday, November 22, 2000

Oops. Now I remember why I chose Times NR. I can't seem to get any other font to work right in Netscape. The posts and dates seem to be in the font I want, but some of the outside stuff won't change from Times New Roman. Need to figure out why this is happening.

      >> 8:22 PM

I can't decide whether or not I like serifs or not for my text. I need to find a font I really like. At the risk of appearing disjointed, I'm going to change the font on this page to something serif-less and leave the [buffy blog] with Times New Roman. It'll all probably get overhauled in the requisite re-design that's long overdue anyways.

      >> 7:26 PM

Yay! Got in the mail today a package from my parents containing pictures/videos from our summer trip to Europe, a blood pressure measuring machine, and food stuffs. The pictures are fun. I am curious as to why I am out of focus in almost all of them, though. Do I just not print well on camera film? The blood pressure machine will unfortunately be a part of hypochondriac Joe's daily regimen of measurement and worry. Sigh. I don't know why I let him talk me into asking my dad (a doctor) to send me one.

      >> 6:49 PM

Browsed through some of [Theodor Adorno's] Minima Moralia this afternoon. Quite an interesting read. Brine, who gave me the book, said it was the first (and only?) book of theory to bring him to tears. So thoughtful of him to pass on his joy. (I suspect it also had something to do with the fact that I had recently professed to my sister Li Jun my interest in studying theory. Up until then, we had both been highly wary of theory and its abstruseness, often laughing at Brine and his theory-headness.)

Anyways, thought for the day from the first paragraph of the "Dedication": "He who wishes to know the truth about life in its immediacy must scrutinize its estranged form, the objective powers that determine individual existence even in its most hidden recesses."

      >> 4:06 PM

Well, I woke up at 7:30 this morning for no good reason, but since I was awake, I decided to get up and look at the driver's handbook. Then I went to take the test and after an hour and a half, I got my North Carolina license! I even got to choose a background for the card (I chose an airplane).

I'm at [Perkins Library] now, hoping to get some reading done. There's an exhibit in the lobby by the artist [Xu Bing] called [The Tobacco Project]. Very enlightening information about the Duke family, local tobacco industry, the strong ties between the two at [Duke University], and the global reach of North Carolina's tobacco market. I remember one of the stories in the news when I first moved to Durham, NC, back in May was an agreement made by the North Carolina legislature and the Chinese government about tobacco exports and trade. I guess it's not surprising that tobacco is really important around here. It's hard to realize just how much tobacco is a part of the history of the area, though.

      >> 11:42 AM

Tuesday, November 21, 2000

I'm trying to decide whether or not I should study the driver's license handbook now. It's already past midnight and the only reason I would read up on traffic violations and their associated penalties is because I'm considering going in (finally) for the North Carolina driver's license test tomorrow morning. I was supposed to get an NC license within sixty days of establishing my residence here. I wouldn't even bother getting a North Carolina license, though, if it weren't for the fact that my California license expires on my birthday at the end of December. I don't even know if the DMV is open tomorrow. I want to go as soon as it opens in the morning to avoid the lines (hah). But I think I will just call it a night and go to sleep.

      >> 11:24 PM

Ah. A week off before classes resume for me. So much time to frolic in the sun. Or write. What will I do, what will I do? (Yay for the server upgrade! Now I can post publish post publish post publish etcetera etcetera all through the holiday.)

      >> 9:49 PM

If you're not watching [Buffy], you're missing out.

      >> 9:39 PM

Sometimes I wonder if living in a world of books and movies means I'm missing out on "reality" . . .

      >> 1:14 PM

Simply amazing. Saw [Tsai Ming-liang's] The Hole last night at a screening of the film series outside the frame (curated by [Professor Stanley Abe] of Duke University). Now I have to see Tsai Ming-liang's other movies, probably beginning with Vive l'Amour, since that seems to be readily available in the U.S. (His movies are: Rebels of Neon God, 1992; Vive l'Amour, 1994; The River, 1997; and The Hole, 1998.)

First of all, I need to make a little self-comment here. I don't know why [earlier] I made a comment about dialogue as if it were the epitome of communication and cinematic achievement. Because that's not what I believe. In fact, The Hole had very little dialogue or other spoken word and I thought there was so much communicated by/between the characters and that it was an excellent movie. What I meant to say, perhaps, was that two movies (by Christopher Guest) with a bunch of talking heads was just a little too much for me. (But aren't blogs like talking heads?)

Anyways, a few months ago when I first noted the screening of The Hole at the film series, I found this book in [Davis Library] from the publisher Editions Dis Voir about Tsai Ming-liang and his films. It's part of a series that includes books/collections of essays on Wong Kar-Wai (another filmmaker I [admire]), Atom Egoyan, Peter Greenaway, Raoul Ruiz, and Manoel de Oliveira (don't actually know who the rest of these blokes are, but might look them up on the ol' www sometime). I need to read these essays once this semester ends -- also some stuff on the web, like a [review] of the book (from first glance there are some things about silence, narration, and space that I don't really agree with). Until I have time to read the essays fully, though, some skimming and looking at the stills from Tsai Ming-liang's movies will do.

In this book, in an essay titled "Corporal Interference," Olivier Joyard (translated from the French by J. Ames Hodges) writes:

They do not have anywhere to run, no shelter save their own homes or the place they have chosen and that is available. Everything outside the shot becomes an imaginary, unattainable place, a mirage for these men and women who follow their own directives: do not run way, search where you are. As if drawn to problems, to catastrophic lands, to irrevocable disturbance, they only ever move around to come back to where they started. This is the initial premise of the apocalyptic film The Hole, which opens with a black screen and a radio voice asking the inhabitants of part of Taipei to leave their homes and stating that garbage collection will be halted because of a mysterious epidemic raging in the city, giving free reign to the city's roaches and rats. Two neighbors, played by Lee Kang-sheng and the demure Yang Kuei-mei, decide not to respond and to ignore the warnings. They offer no explanation for this apparently suicidal choice to remain in their dirty, waterlogged apartments. They are isolated without having moved, without changing their daily habits. Their clumsy attempts at fixing the leaks that are making their lives impossible are abandoned when confronted with the largest leak of all, a hole in the florr that spearates their two apartments. This hole becomes the film, the receptacle for love, desire, pain and even a little happiness.

This description is a fairly concise summary of the movie. The movie takes this interesting idea (impending apocalypse, mysterious epidemic, deserted city) and does something magical (hee) with it in the translation to film so that it is more than just "what happens." But the exchanges between Lee Kang-sheng and Yang Kuei-mei are marvelous. There's a development in their relationship as the movie progresses that comes out despite their never really having conversations. (As for the note about the world outside the camera shot, I'd have to disagree. It seems that the world is more than just imaginary and unattainable -- it is the real and yet seemingly unattainable. It is outside of the camera shots where the possibilities seem to lie. See Fran Martin's essay, linked below.)

In another snippet from the book, Jean-Pierre Rehm (translated from the French by J. Ames Hodges) writes in "Bringing in the Rain":

Tsai Ming-liang is far from taking interest in the nihilism found in documentaries and documentary-style fiction . . . The location is not merely a frame, a background decor or the source of "reality effects", but is decisive in determining the rules of the game. It propose the scene itself like a "real situation" rather than a set, in other words as a whole. There are no tradeoffs here, no cinematic invasions, no lavish reconstructions, just a space that breathes at its own rhythm.

Now this quote makes an interesting connection with Guest's "mockumentaries." There is a way in which Tsai Ming-liang's The Hole is sort of documentary-like. And yet, it seems to sidestep most of what Guest sends-up in his mockumentaries: the self-aggrandizing banter of the documentary subject (Tsai Ming-liang's subjects are not trying to present themselves to the viewer/camera), the too-serious attitudes of the subjects, etc. Instead, The Hole presents a sort of realism that illuminates situational importance and emphasizes the loneliness of the subjects/characters in their negotiations of that world.

At the end of the movie, before the credits, Tsai Ming-liang gives thanks for Grace Chang and her music. I don't really know who Grace Chang is, but she apparently was a singer/actor in Hollywood-like-musicals in Hong Kong. Fran Martin writes in ["Wild Women and Mechanical Men: A Review of The Hole"]:

Chang is remembered by these audiences for her daring performance style and risqué lyrics that suggest an unruly female sexuality - for example in 'I Want Your Love' [Wo Yao Nide Ai] and 'Vixen' [Yanzhihu], both of which feature in The Hole. The film's musical sequences are re-enactments of Grace Chang's own re-enactment of the conventions of the Hollywood musical: a doubly denaturalised theatricality. In this, they take the meaning of camp performance to a new level.

Very interesting. Gives the musical sequences of The Hole some added meaning. (I could see that they were influenced by the Hollywood musical, but did not know that they were in fact filtered through another level of theatrical history.)

Some other interesting links:

- [Love, Life and Lies. The films of Tsai Ming-liang in the context of the new Taiwanese Cinema]

- [Review of The Hole]

- [Synopsis of Vive l'Amour]

      >> 6:22 AM

Monday, November 20, 2000

The sight of snow on trees is one of the most beautiful sights in the world.

      >> 6:52 AM

Too much sleep. The cold. The warmth.

      >> 5:49 AM

Sunday, November 19, 2000

After receiving a holiday shopping gift book in the mail from [amazon.com] last weekend, I decided to create my own [wishlist], mostly out of hope of [winning] everything on my list. Who knows? I was extremely lucky at my high school graduation party, winning two prizes (a VCR and a luggage set). Maybe it'll happen again.

By the way, for those of you who are planning on doing a lot of your holiday shopping online and have a philanthropic heart, please consider buying your gifts through either [The Hunger Site/Greater Good.com] or [iGive.com]. A certain percentage of your purchases will go to charities of your choice, without extra cost to you.

      >> 3:04 PM

[A Day With(out) Weblogs.]

      >> 2:50 PM

Movie listing. Saw [Best in Show] yesterday. It was funny, but unfortunately not much different from Christopher Guest's earlier movie, [Waiting for Guffman]. Regardless, I liked Best in Show better because the dogs gave the concept a much needed relief from the heavy-handed irony of the seriousness of the actors.

After some thought, I have decided that making two movies based on this concept of a "mockumentary" seems to be an acknowledgement by Guest that he is not particularly good at writing dialogue. While the format of the mockumentary is inherently ironic and funny, Guest doesn't explore the format further with his second movie. He doesn't send up more of the assumptions of documentaries or their subjects. What is interesting, though, is that Guest uses many (all?) of the same actors and character-types from Waiting for Guffman in Best of Show. And that leads me to think about how he might be making meta-commentary on mockumentaries (as opposed to just on documentaries) in this second work. But I don't think there is much other evidence that he is doing so.

      >> 9:15 AM

There's something special about holding a sleeping person. One of my favorite things is waking up early in the morning, or even in the middle of night, and putting my arms around Joe as he's asleep. I like the feel of his body as he breathes. There's also something else palpable about his being asleep. I think that it's because there's a sense of concentration that sleeping people give off (because of dreaming?). (I remember I used to watch my brother sleeping--and at one point even had an art assignment to draw a sleeping person by candlelight, giving me more reason to observe--and wonder what he was dreaming.)

Maybe the most intriguing thing about sleeping people is trying to figure out what is going on through their heads. With waking people, you can ask them what they are thinking. The answers may not be simple or true (if that is possible), but at least you get a response. With sleeping people, there is more of an enigma. And that's where the holding comes in--I feel like I have a special connection to Joe as he sleeps. It could all be made-up in my head, but I feel it nonetheless.

A related thing is the joy I get from watching Joe just do things sometimes. It could be something as simple as picking out food at the grocery store, but it strikes me as particularly novel and fun. I have a feeling it's akin to what some people really enjoy about little children--seeing a situation through the eyes of someone else, especially if it is for this someone else's first time. I get that feeling sometimes watching the baby (not to infantilize him too much). And it seems to offer me a window into his perspective, into how he approaches objects and people in the world. What it does is show me just how self-centered my worldview is and encourages me to let go of rigidity in my beliefs.

      >> 8:52 AM

Friday, November 17, 2000

(For more information on Wen Ho Lee, visit [WenHoLee.org].)

So I went to a lecture this afternoon at [Duke University]. The lecture was given by [Professor L. Ling-chi Wang], co-founder of [Ethnic Studies] and director of Asian American Studies at the [University of California at Berkeley]. The title of the talk was "Model Minority, High-tech Coolies, and Foreign Spies: Wen Ho Lee and Asian Americans in Science and Technology."

Dr. Wang's thesis for the talk was that racial profiling of Asian Americans as perpetual foreigners led to the scapegoating of, arrest, and eventual incarceration of Wen Ho Lee in the media fury over an alleged security breach at the Los Alamos nuclear weapons development facility. Though he gave a fairly convincing account of the development of such racial profiling, I became uncomfortable as he then proceeded to pitch the plight of Wen Ho Lee in the terms of that phenomenon known as the "glass ceiling" and his (Dr. Lee's) rights as a supporter of middle-class American values and the American Dream.

Dr. Wang gave an extensive historical overview of legal and political events in American history that have contributed to and shaped the racialization of Asian Americans as perpetual foreigners, beginning with the denial of Chinese immigrants' right to naturalization as United States citizens in 1872 and the [Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882] that barred the immigration of new Chinese laborers (though interestingly not certain other classes of Chinese immigrants provided they had documentation and authorization from the Chinese government). Dr. Wang touched on various other points in history such as the forced deportation of Chinese immigrants by renegade Americans who blamed the immigrants for various economic and social problems in 1886; the [internment] in concentration camps and persecution of Japanese Americans as spies during World War II; anti-Asian sentiments during the Korean and Vietnam wars; and the killing of [Vincent Chin] by two disgruntled, layed-off auto-workers in Detroit in 1982. The consequences of these events was the steady stripping of civil rights from the Asian immigrant, from the right to naturalization as citizens to legal rights of due process and even rights as persons per se in the eyes of the law (various legal rulings and actions reduced the Chinese subject to the status of a moron, incapable of testifying against white Americans in court or even in defense of himself).

(For some of the historical details, I pulled out [Sucheng Chan's] Asian Americans: An Interpretive History to refresh my memory. I need to re-read the book for a stronger grasp of the importance of these events and how they have shaped racial understanding throughout the last century and a half. As I recall, Sucheng Chan gives a much more nuanced argument--understandably, given the different media of presentation--of the development of Asian American racial identities.)

While Dr. Wang's central argument is thus rooted strongly in racial profiling and racism, he fails to take his line of thinking firmly to a conclusion of social justice. What he calls for is a justice of sorts--he wants to see a Presidential apology for the persecution of Wen Ho Lee--but by a path that I feel is ultimately unsatisfying and only likely to reinforce the ways in which a supposedly liberal legal ideology can still treat people differently, discriminating against some on the basis of race, others on the basis of sex, etc.

After giving this historical overview of the construction of the perpetual foreignness of the Asian body, Dr. Wang raised the concept of the "model minority." He seemed at first to talk about this concept in suspicious terms, indicating that it as a label is not entirely accurate. He pointed out that in fact many of the Asian Americans described by the model minority label (including Dr. Lee) were in fact immigrants from China and Taiwan who came first to the United States for graduate education. Thus, this group of immigrants were already tracked into the upper-middle class by virtue of their educational level. To pretend that such a group of people could be compared to a more socio-economically varied group of people such as African Americans is simply ludicrous. (Tracing the [emergence] of "the model minority" is revealing. The concept first emerged along with the rise of the Civil Rights Movement. It is hard not to see this concept as an attempt to stem the discussions of racial inequality and discriminations brought out by the Civil Rights Movement.)

But after acknowledging the stickiness of "model minority" as a "positive" portrayal of Asian Americans, Dr. Wang seemed to accept it and shifted his critique of the case of the racial profiling of Wen Ho Lee to that of Dr. Lee's being denied his just desserts as such an upright and model citizen. To be sure, Dr. Lee had voluntarily let himself be interviewed by FBI agents on a score of occasions during his twenty years of service at the Los Alamos laboratories, and certainly he did also agree to "watch" visiting researchers from China and to brief the FBI again on those researchers (whose spy was he?), but should his acquiescence to the discriminatory practices of the government make him somehow immune to such discrimination? If he plays with fire, should he be surprised when he is burned?

Now, I am not saying that Wen Ho Lee was responsible for his own persecution. In fact, I do believe, as Dr. Wang does, that Dr. Lee was very much invested in the national security of the United States and was as loyal a citizen as any other red-blooded American patriot. But I think it is precisely because Dr. Lee seems to have thought this way that his situation is all the more ironic. And those of us out there seeking social justice should understand that demanding an apology from the President is not the same as addressing the serious issues at the heart of Dr. Lee's case.

One aspect of Dr. Wang's talk that I thought could've been developed more was his idea that there is political/presidential campaign spin to the whole case. As Dr. Wang notes, neither major party candidate for the Presidency addressed Wen Ho Lee's case or the specific issue of nuclear technology and national security during the whole year of campaigning. This, I believe, is why Dr. Wang seeks that apology from President Clinton. He seems to think that all of the racial profiling and scapegoating ultimately stems from the Presidential office and its need to present certain senses of national security and justice.

But what are some of these more fundamental issues that I'm feeling are there? The idea that Dr. Lee is really a scapegoat for the media-uncovered allegation that there had been a national security breach at Los Alamos is certainly a starting point. (The media, by the way, is very much caught up in the racial profiling and allegations of spying as anyone else involved. The New York Times in particular was instrumental in Dr. Lee's incarceration and indictment. For more on this story, see [this article].) Challenging the idea of the "model minority" as success stories of the American Dream is another. (How has that concept been used to attack welfare programs, affirmative action, higher education admissions? See [Dana Y. Takagi's] [The Retreat from Race: Asian-American Admissions and Racial Politics] for an insightful study of the use of Asian Americans and race to dismantle the gains of the Civil Rights Movement.)

In any case, I've run out of steam. While the whole case of Wen Ho Lee's incarceration (nine months in solitary confinement--only one hour a day outside a small, constantly-lit cell) is terrible and utterly unforgivable, I think that the activism of people like Dr. Wang is unfortunately misdirected. In general, I do see that the problem of Asian American activism (or lack thereof) is in the insistence of so many Asian Americans to buy into the idea of the model minority, the American Dream, the possibility of achieving actual equality with white Americans in systems that have at stake the continued subjugation of certain peoples for its perpetuation. A look at the racial makeup of various occupations is telling. For example, positions of power and authority have far fewer people of color than positions that are no less instrumental to the operations of various institutions, but simply lack the power to change policy and law. What would I recommend as a course of action? I'm not sure. But it wouldn't hinge on an apology from President Clinton. It would have to deal more with exposing the way in which Asian Americans often buy into the idea of being the model minority, and thus contributing to the stratification of races in economic/moral terms.

      >> 8:12 PM

Edited 9:28:05 AM. I guess it's not likely I'll be posting this entry today. I'm already getting the active server error message. But this, too, raises an interesting question: why am I so frustrated by not being able to post and publish minute-by-minute updates to my blog? It's a similar feeling I get after I've hand-written a letter for someone and I need to get it out into the mailbox for delivery as soon as possible, even though the recipient won't get the letter for days anyways. (Similarly with the blog, it's not like I have visitors checking my site more than once a daya for updates . . .) Blogger is playing with my mind! It's screwing with my sense of timeliness!

I can post and publish again.

I wonder if this jump in traffic on [blogger] will re-configure the way I use it. Since it seems like I can only post and publish before 9 am, will I only blog in the early morning?

Words on bumper sticker seen on station wagon as I was cruising along on the bus between the commuter parking lot and campus:

God said it.
I believe it.
That settles it.

Far from! First of all, that "God said it" is far from a settled thing. It the gospel truly the word of God (or His Son?)? Or is it the relating of the word by prophets and disciples? (And is there a difference?) Secondly, what did God say? (What is "it"?) That interpretation of what "it" is is as much a function of "I believe" as anything else (i.e. I don't believe there is an "it" that God said, set in stone, despite the Ten Commandments.). And finally, what does "it" all settle? What God said? What "I" believes? What?

      >> 8:03 AM

A common quest for me and my siblings is to find out what gives our lives meaning. This often translates generally into a search for pleasure, what we like about life. It's not an easy search or one that I think even has an ultimate goal/revelation. And in a sense, I've come to believe that the process of searching, of discovering, is in fact what gives my life meaning. (Is this like the search for the Holy Grail?)

This idea has been at the front of my mind lately because of the questions my sister asks in her interview of me. As much as the questions are all centered around our family, the dynamics of interaction, etc., they also reveal a lot about how expectations from our family (parents) do orient our perceptions of what meanings life holds. And a lot of what I seem to be doing, along with my sisters (and brother?), is attempting to re-establish control over those meanings, not allowing the expectations of others completely to dominate what we expect of ourselves and our lives.

      >> 7:33 AM

Thursday, November 16, 2000

This is insane. I'm having a hard time even retrieving this edit-your-blog page. Is the traffic on blogger really that much higher because of that New Yorker article?

So my brother left me a voicemail message today asking if I will be going home for Thanksgiving. It was nice to hear from him, and I am slightly upset that I missed his call because my phone had run out of batteries. Alas, I will not be going home for Thanksgiving this year, but I am planning on going home for the winter break. Should get my tickets very soon (should've gotten them weeks ago).

      >> 10:14 PM

Words, words, words.

      >> 9:41 AM

I'm just going to keep posting, even though I can't seem to publish. I'm getting this [Active Server Pages error 'ASP 0113'] message after blogger starts generating pages.

      >> 8:59 AM

Reading the most-recent-post-at-top-of-page format of blogs can be sort of disorienting when I come across a blog for the first time. It disturbs that sense of narrative time, of cause and effect, of first-things-first. I'm reminded of the first story in the novel [Dark Rides] by [Derek McCormack]. In this story, "Backward," McCormack has taken the paragraphs and reversed their order. Reading it for the first time, the story makes little to no sense. But once you reach the end, you get "the whole picture" and might even (as I did) read the story backwards, meaning narratively forwards. It's a particularly interesting example because the plot is contingent upon the narrator's mistaken sense of the cause-and-effect of his tryst with another man in the barn.

(Why is the scroll bar on IE not working?)

      >> 8:32 AM

Wednesday, November 15, 2000

Am answering some questions now for my sister about our family. She is taking a class in which she has been asked to examine the dynamics of our family and how different members of the family perceive themselves within the family context. There are some questions, too, on the present vs. the past and how my relationship to my family has changed over time. Some difficult questions to think about here.

      >> 9:32 PM

Head. Ache.

      >> 9:21 PM

Tuesday, November 14, 2000

Constantly dehydrated? That's how I feel, though I make an effort to drink lots of water. Even after a full glass of water, my mouth can still feel dry. Am I dying?

As I passed by one of Joe's bookcases this evening, I saw some books that reminded me of the "genre" of literature that I had in mind as my subject of study oh-so-many-years-ago (two?) before I got caught up in so many other interesting things. This genre is generally that of Caribbean literatures (mainly anglophone, due to my lack of knowledge of other languages). There is something about the culture of the Caribbean islands that appeals to me as a basis/mode of thinking about life through the lenses of race, postcoloniality, and sexuality. Perhaps it stems from the prevalence of highly "mixed" populations, although as I have noted [earlier], the idea of racial harmony brought about by the elimination of racial difference through cross-racial mating is problematic and even loathesome. However, I cannot deny that the national, political, and cultural situation of race and identity in the Caribbean seems very much to be a product of historical forces that have molded a particularly hybrid/mestizo racial makeup in its peoples. (If my unreliable memory is correct, there is a book by C. L. R. James that addresses cricket, the sport, in the Caribbean as an emblem of racial harmony, showcasing players of various racial and ethnic backgrounds performing in harmony.)

In any case, some of this stuff is of use to me now as I struggle with conceptions of being and race for a presentation/discussion in one of my current classes on Afro-American literature. In one sense, the debate is between narratives of being black versus narratives of black being. In the former, a person's subjectivity (racially neutral) is inflected through social interaction and understanding into various racial identities and realities (including class differentiation). In the latter, a person's subjectivity is determined by race, biologically, physiologically, and genetically (racial memory is one component of such thinking). The extreme positions could be articulated respectively as constructivist and essentialist. I am not sure what to make of this divide/debate, especially in articulating (for the purposes of dismantling or re-evaluating) realities of race and racial discrimination.

It's getting late. Let me just [bracket] for now Shani Mootoo's Cereus Blooms at Night as the novel I need to re-read and think about more sometime soon.

(Buffy-ites, be sure to stop by the [buffy blog], too!)

      >> 10:55 PM

Fall is beautiful.

What are we doing inside? We should go outside! Enjoy the sun! Just came back from a late-morning grocery shopping excursion. I felt like I bought out the whole store. Whew! Stopped by to get a haircut on the way there, too.

By the time I came out of the grocery store, the clouds had blown away and the sun in a beautiful blue sky was shining away on the most colorful tree-scape I've seen here. The rains must've literally washed the leaves and trees clean. They also loosened the multi-colored leaves from the trees, leading them to shower the road with swirls of bright color that shifted constantly in the wakes of passing cars. Oranges, reds, some greens, all against the backing blue of sunny skies. The sun truly is an amazing thing. The vibrancy of the colors out there are beyond description. Even my shuttered apartment is bright (on one side), giving this place a much happier atmosphere than it has on grey days. This amazing color/sun might force me to re-evaluate my liking of grey and gloom!

On a stupider note, do North Carolina drivers just not know how to drive? I have been witness/party to a handful of near-accidents and stupid actions by drivers just in the past week. The other day, I was coasting down an exit ramp from 15-501 when an old man in his old Buick slowly (in a doddering way) turned up the off-ramp, going in the wrong direction. I waved at him frantically as I brought my car to a stop at the bottom of the ramp. He completely ignored me and kept going. There was a woman in a car behind him who was also gesturing confusedly. Luckily, half-way up the ramp, the old man realized he was going the wrong way and backed down the ramp. Yesterday, I had just gotten off the Durham Freeway, headed towards Duke's East Campus, when all of a sudden someone in a car with heavily tinted windows (could s/he even see out of them?) decided to turn onto the road right in front of me. All I can say is, it's a good thing my car has anti-lock brakes. And the stupidest thing is as I was braking and honking, the driver STOPPED right in front of me instead of going on into the next lane (as was her/his intention). And then today, as I was coming to a stoplight, I saw a car on the crossroad come to a complete stop in the middle of the intersection just as my light turned green. Instead of just continuing on, the driver paused for a second or two, then backed up, even though he was already well on his way past the intersection. Go figure.

      >> 11:54 AM

It's raining, raining, raining. And I'm still avoiding the books. I really need to work on this aversion to picking up books if I am to stay in graduate school. Maybe a mid-morning trip to the grocery store will reinvigorate me.

The thing is, I do want to be in graduate school. There are things I want to think about, ideas I want to work out. But the actual execution always seems to confound me. It's nearing the end of the semester, so these papers I have to write will have to be written somehow, sometime, soon. I just have a hard time focusing my explorations, I guess. I have about a million different ideas, fragments of writing, and unformed thoughts pulling me every which way. I don't want to banish them, though. If I did, would I be thought-less? But how to make sense of the cacophony? How can I blast a path through the murky minefield of ideas? I must figure this out.

But first, the shower. And shaving. (Ugh.) And maybe a bowl of cereal.

      >> 8:45 AM

I guess this blog is turning out in some ways to be archival evidence of my fleeting memory. Odd, since most people consider blogging to be a transient sort of phenomenon, content that flits by on the page for a day or a week or a month. What's made me think of this blog as somewhat archival is that I've been dredging up memories of the past that I know are fading, fading. Will I read these posts in the distant future and remember these memories?

      >> 7:37 AM

Monday, November 13, 2000

I am soooo hungry. When is it going to be noon so I can leave for lunch?

I was reminded this weekend (by what I don't know) about this girl I ran into one cold December night. It was a bit eerie, the whole experience. It was the night before the dorms were closing for winter break. The campus was mostly deserted by then. I went to the basement laundry room to wash and dry my clothes, not expecting to run into anyone at all.

Instead, I entered the room to find a girl sitting in one of the chairs. As I went about my business, she began talking to me. I don't remember how the conversation started, but she ended up telling me all sorts of things about herself. She was a freshman and she was having a wonderful time at school. She began singing and she explained that she was a big musical theater person. Then she started talking about her boyfriend who was an actor-type. And then somehow she began talking about how he was beginning to question his sexuality after starring that semester in one of the lead roles in a stage production of Jonathan Harvey's [Beautiful Thing]. She went on to say how she knew so many wonderful gay men on [campus] and that she often felt like she was a gay man in a woman's body. Keep in mind that I have said virtually nothing this whole time. She was just a talkative one. And then she went on to say that every guy she met now seemed to be gay. Poor me! she was saying. At which point I had to enlighten her and let her know that I, too, am gay. She didn't believe me at first, refusing, in fact, to believe it.

At any rate, I was finished with my laundry and ready to lug the stuff up to the fifth floor of my building (no elevators in these venerable old buildings) when Lisa (for that was her name) said that she was lonely and would like some company that night. So I agreed to go to her room after I had finished packing to watch Interview With the Vampire because she is such a Tom Cruise fan. And then the strangeness began: we realized that she was living in the exact same suite/room/bed that I had lived in two years earlier when I was a freshman. We also knew many of the same people (via the theater subculture on campus). And not only that, but she is also a twin. She claimed that we were in the realm of [synchronicity] and it was fate that we came together.

Anyways, I did go to her room that night to watch Interview With the Vampire. Lisa was very tired (as was I) and she sprawled out on the sofa. I sat on the floor, and she pouted, wanting me to cuddle with her on the sofa. Hello? We just met. In any case, part of the way into the movie, I ended up on the sofa with her (what can I say, I'm a sap). And she fell asleep on my shoulder.

You would think that after such an experience, we would've gotten in touch or something when the new semester started up. But we never did. I never talked to her again in the year and a half I had left in college.

      >> 10:51 AM

All you ever wanted to know about the [electoral college system].

      >> 9:54 AM

[Alumni registry?] I know many people who don't like to be associated with their high schools, colleges, etc. I am not particularly fond of mine as institutions, either, but went ahead and registered on this website. Amazingly, some of my high school classmates are on the registers. This year was my fifth year out of high school. I wonder if there was a reunion that I didn't hear about . . .

      >> 9:44 AM

Sunday, November 12, 2000

We went to [The Mad Hatter's Bake Shop] this afternoon to hang out, read, and enjoy some yummies. I had forgotten that there was this place. When Joe first moved down here to Durham, NC, I stopped by The Mad Hatter's Bake Shop to buy him a birthday cake. But since then, I hadn't really been back.

It's a fun place. The theme is, of course, hats. There are display cases full of mannequin heads wearing a variety of hats--conventional and wacky ones. There's something a little . . . queer . . . about the place, I think. Partially, it's the Village People-esque costuming (via hats). Could also be the random movie poster of The Wizard of Oz in the corner on the wall.

Unfortunately, the music is a little on the loud side for serious studying, and it closed kind of early today (4 pm--perhaps it opens again later in the evening). Otherwise, The Mad Hatter's Bake Shop is another place to relax and hang out in Durham. Amazing.

      >> 6:03 PM

Friday, November 10, 2000

[I am the weed wacker in the garden of evil!]

      >> 11:03 AM

Just read a [slander column] on racial "revolution" via procreative miscegenation. The idea of a "melting pot" as the solution to racial discord is just eerie to me, but [worsethanqueer] really does an amazing job of pulling apart such an "assimilative eugenics," exposing some of the racial and sexual ideologies behind its seemingly revolutionary facade.

      >> 10:00 AM

[What a girl wants?]

      >> 8:00 AM

Isn't it interesting how the present tense seems to be the preferred tense for relating dream experiences? (Or maybe it's just me . . . )

So just the other day I got an e-mail from my brother, a generally chatty e-mail about how he's a little overwhelmed at his new job. This e-mail is strange because our exchanges had sort of dropped off back in early October. At that point, he was ready to come visit me here in North Carolina before he started working at the end of the month. He never did.

You see, my brother and I have a weird relationship. We're close, I would say, largely because we're twins and we grew up together, constantly in each other's presences through high school. At that point, I left for the Northeast and he for Southern California for college. Things have not been the same ever since.

When I came out to my family about four years ago, things got even crazier. My brother was told by my sister (after the trauma of telling my parents, I couldn't deal with telling my other siblings and this one sister already knew). And he did not seem to take it well. He wrote me a letter saying that he would always be my brother, despite his belief that I was deluding myself. And then for almost a year we didn't talk.

But then we gradually re-established a dialogue and he flew out to the East Coast the following year to visit me and my sister. Unfortunately, I think that visit only exacerbated the discomforts. He met Joe, although I did not tell him that he was my special friend. Long story short, when my brother said he wanted to come visit me in October, I e-mailed him back enthusiastically, but with a note that I am living with Joe. You see, I had never really told him. And that was when talk of his visit sort of disappeared. Maybe there were other reasons. I don't know. But the (lack of) evidence seems to show some sort of causal link here.

And maybe that's why he showed up in my dream last night as a sort of constant (yet constantly disappearing) presence.

Unrelated: [World mocks U.S. vote]

Yours, &c.

      >> 7:03 AM

I need to work on this falling-asleep by 10 pm thing . . .

So anyways, back to dream blogging. It was a Wonderland-like experience that I remember, although that could be one of those associations that I'm making as part of the dream (you know, like when you think, wow, this experience I'm having reminds me of x, even though it doesn't really resemble x at all).

First part: I go in late to a reading group meeting. There's only one seat left on the far side of the room and I have to squeeze by everyone to get to it. The room is hot and stifling, too. I sit down, and realize that I won't be able to leave early very easily. I wish that I hadn't bothered to come, since I hadn't done the reading anyways. There's this guy to the left of me. His name is Ben. (I don't know who he is). He seems to me to be kissing up to our professor who's also part of this group. It's agony as I try to pretend to know something about the reading so I might be able to say something in discussion, but I don't. And then we take a break, and there are all these delicious treats. There's cheesecake that looks delicious. But I never try it . . .

I'm with my brother Leon and we're in a city. Maybe it's San Francisco. There's something that's happened before all this, but I can't remember now, or maybe it was never in the dream. We enter a large multi-level Niketown store. And we're relieved, finally to be shopping for clothes (note: this is weird). On that street-level floor, we look around at t-shirts on racks. We both want a Superman t-shirt, but we can't find that "standard" short-sleeved, vibrant blue version with the logo on front. At some point, I get diverted by comic-book storage boxes. I see one labeled "Lee, Jae," and I remember that he worked on something that I liked. But when I got up close to the box, all I found were romance-novel-like adapted-from-movie-like books.

My brother and I go down the escalators to a lower level. We take a right turn (physical space is sometimes what I remember clearest about dreams) and enter the shoe zone. My brother is big into shoes, so he gravitates to it. But I see just to the other side, a counter with stuff. I can't say what stuff now because it seemed to shift endlessly. I looked first for something in particular on the shelves, but couldn't find it amongst the diarray of partially opened merchandise. So I went up to ask at the counter. At first, the guy said, speak up, can't hear you. Then it seemed like my brother was all of a sudden next to me again and as I was stuttering through the words, I managed to ask for some Polaroid film. The guy asked for clarification, and for a while, I couldn't remember the type of Polaroid camera I had, and I tried to talk around it, circumlocuting, as my Spanish teacher in high school would say. Fun stuff. New. Then I remembered it as the Joycam. So the guy said they did have film and would get it for me.

Now this is where it gets weird. I'm waiting for him to get the film. Then he starts making this brew or something in a cauldron-like area on the side of the counter. It's got large mushrooms and capers or something in it. It's a clear broth, it looks like. And the guy adds something to it which I realize is "the thing" I asked for. But it's no longer film. And then my brother is there again by my side and someone else working behind the counter gives us a dessert treat, this sweet peanut soup thing that my mom used to make. My brother declined it, but I had some. And then I ask the guy making the broth for me if the "tea" is ready, and he gives me a startled look. He says he didn't realize I wanted it in tea-form. And so I say oh no it's no big deal. (So is this some sort of herbal remedy thing I'm getting?)

And then I'm still waiting so I go off to the side, right of the counter, into a dressing room-like place to relax. I put my stuff down and everything. And then all of a sudden, the whole space seems to be different and I'm in a house. The dressing-room is sort of a living room with a couch and TV. I start thinking about rearranging the furniture so that it doesn't seem so much like it's hiding in a corner.

Then I'm in a different sort of living space, just having come back with a friend from a store (and all the while I'm still thinking about that broth that I'm waiting for). The dressing room from the store is now my little space off of this living room. People come and go. Some girl comes back and says how much she hates physics. I agree.

There are weird beeping noises in my dream.

My alarm clock goes off.

      >> 5:31 AM

Thursday, November 09, 2000

Need to work on [InstantKnowledge] study guide for James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room.

      >> 7:27 PM

Do you [bust ads]?

      >> 1:09 PM

Here's an online [petition] calling for a recasting of votes from Palm Beach County, Florida, because of the confusion caused by the ballot. A recasting of the votes would mean more than just recounting the votes. It could mean thousands of votes going to Gore rather than Buchanan. As I understand the situation, thousands of ballots were also discarded because they had votes for more than one candidate for president (perhaps due to the confusion of the layout of the ballot).

      >> 8:56 AM

Wednesday, November 08, 2000

["I've got another 10 weeks to quack."]

      >> 10:54 AM

I am the terror that flaps in the night!

I'd forgotten that shadowy duck came from the short-lived but marvelous Disney cartoon, [Darkwing Duck]. I guess I'll just have to be an amalgamation of both Darwking Duck and Shadowcat.

      >> 9:54 AM

Tuesday, November 07, 2000


Slash n. A fanfic story pairing two characters of the same sex, with or without variations on that theme. Within-slash-standard ratings appear story by story. I've added htm links to expurgated versions of the NC-17 stories, which versions usually came out rated about PG-13. Said ratings are all for adult situations and intimate encouters; with the exceptions of the two labeled spoofs and "Shock Treatment", there's no swearing that can't be used on prime-time network TV. If you're under 18 or there are other legal problems with slash where you live, well, you've been warned. (The expurgated versions contain all the plot of the more explicit versions; sometimes there's a small amount of expository dialogue missing, but the stories remain coherent.)

(Taken from [Blue Champagne].)

Must look into this slash further . . .

      >> 12:44 PM

I may be shadowy duck, but I think my superhero name would be shadowduck, after the inimitable (hah) [Shadowcat]. She was always one of my favorite superheroes. Plus, she was part of the original [Excalibur] lineup. That fifty issue story-arc involving the Phoenix force and Merlyn and all was absolutely breathtaking. After all, how could you go wrong with attempting to emulate someone who can walk through walls and has gone through numerous names in the course of her superhero career (Kitty Pryde, aka Ariel, aka Sprite, aka Shadowcat . . . )?

      >> 12:10 PM

Making some quesadillas for lunch. It's a wonder that I even thought I could get out of the apartment before noon.

Got invited to join a [BuffyLog] today. Be prepared for much Buffy blogging mayhem!

      >> 11:17 AM

Wow. I guess I must have been more tired than I thought I was to post that strange, sappy message last night. Oh well.

      >> 9:33 AM

And miles to go before I [sleep] . . .

(An entry whispered onto the server from a quiet room.)

The humming of electrical appliances, the passing of the occasional car out on the lonely, sparsely-lit street, the gentle breathing of Joe--these all point me towards the warmth and softness of bed and blankets. But still I sit here at my desk, the reading for tomorrow's class at my side as I try to eke out a written response.

Late night musings tend towards the dark and deep. It must be the quiet of the night, the heavy weight of dreams that seems to push against the silence of my self-obsessed mind. If I concentrate hard enough, can I hear someone else's dreams?

I remember how as a child I used to stay up late just so I could be the only one still awake in the house. Surrounded so constantly by family, school, and my twin brother--a comforting satellite of my existence (though he would surely not like to think of himself that way)--I felt at last vulnerable in the dead of night. The sound of wind rustling leaves on the trees around the house, the shadows cast by the meager desk light illuminating the pages of my book, these things became my world at the stroke of midnight. Oddly enough, this exacerbated sense of solitude only seemed to blur that line between my consciousness and the world outside.

It was always the knowledge of others--the presence of my brother in his bed across the room, my parents down the hall performing their nightly cacophony of snores, the sound of a singer's voice in the music I played to myself through muted headphones--that made possible my retreat into this world-apart yet a-part. I felt (and feel) as if a web of dreams, so to speak, the collective unconsciousness of my family, the others in the city, held me safe while the night exposed. I could alternately delve into the world of a story or deeper into my own thoughts. This was a time I often wrote or drew. It was as if I needed time and space apart from the social world, yet could only be apart in the comfort of its presence (albeit subdued and asleep).

How little, it seems, has changed.

The woods are lovely, dark and [deep] . . .

      >> 12:54 AM

Monday, November 06, 2000

Anne asks, "Hmm am I going to be in a blog now?" Sorry to disappoint you, but probably not. ;-) And no, the blog isn't really some sort of "pseudo-performance artist" thing. Although, now that you mention it, that's a far more interesting way to think of it than "my confessional on-line journal."

Keep rocking Better Fangs :F? babe.

      >> 11:42 PM

More [X-Men Evolution]! And the [Marvel Comics] website with a page on the [X-Men].

      >> 9:15 AM

The [baby] is so smart! I think he figured out why my car was seeming to die on me. LOW ON GAS! The gas gauge needle was hovering just above the last line. I was in fact trying to see when the gas-low indicator light would come on. Apparently it's broken. Or it only comes on once it's REALLY out of gas. I estimate that there must've been at least a gallon of gas left in the tank. Anyways, since I was low on gas, the fact that I was parked on a downward slope probably made it difficult for the car to deliver enough fuel to the engine on starting. Or something. In any case, I didn't have any problems with the car after I filled it up with gas on Saturday. And this morning was the coldest by far, so it's probably not a problem with coldness. We hope.

Had a strange dream this morning between 4:45 am and 6:00 am. I was living with Joe back in my parents' house in California (they no longer lived there). It was so . . . domestic. It was a morning, and we were getting ready to go off to our respective jobs. I was frantic, running around trying to remember what I was forgetting (I knew I was forgetting SOMEthing). Then my sister Josephine came over and she and Joe were talking and laughing. They both thought I was just exaggerating about being late for work, etc. etc. It was 7:30 (or 8:30), and I had to be at work by the top of the hour. I knew it took half an hour just to drive to work (here at UNC?). And then finding parking was another matter entirely. But J+J just kept laughing and going about their business . . .

      >> 7:08 AM

Sunday, November 05, 2000

Maybe I just don't understand satire. Saw Spike Lee's new film, Bamboozled, last night. (I know, lots of movies and TV these past few days . . . ) Can't say it worked for me. Was very disjointed and while it touched on many stereotypes of African Americans past and present, lacked any coherent, discernible narrative or angle of critique about the stereotypes. Still, as a sort of historical or documentary artifact of such stereotypes and representations, is thought-provoking.

      >> 8:54 PM

No, Communism was [just] a red herring.

      >> 3:07 PM

Saturday, November 04, 2000

Aha! I've figured it out! (Ok, so I'm [slow].) The difference between a show like [Queer Duck] and a show like [Mr. Wong] isn't that they're both over-the-top provoking satires, but that the agency ascribed to those provacateurs is decidedly different. The duck of Queer Duck is a fey homosexual who uses his queerness as a weapon against the sensibilities of a heteronormative public. Mr. Wong, on the other hand, is the butt of the jokes/satires in his show. He gets misread by the others in the cartoon, most oftenly as a homosexual. The humor in that show stems from laughing at Mr. Wong's accent, his looks, his facial expression, from his inability to interface "normally" with his world. So in a way, Queer Duck and Mr. Wong achieve their laughs by pursuing two opposing paths. And in the end, that makes all the difference for me. I like a show like Queer Duck, but can't help but seethe with contempt for the creators of Mr. Wong. (Of course, they probably revel in that seething.) On the one hand, Queer Duck pokes fun and thus reveals the absurdity of systems of oppression. On the other, Mr. Wong pokes fun at a physical instantiation of what these systems of oppression (such as racism, sexism and heteronormativity) seek to erase. So, in Mr. Wong, it is very much a laughing at what political correctness has striven to end--the censure of people who do not conform.

      >> 1:12 PM

Yay for me! I finally did laundry this morning (five wash loads!--that's including Joe's clothes). And I even made it back from the laundromat in time so that I could fold the clothes while watching Saturday morning cartoons. I watched the premier of X-Men Evolution. That was pretty good. I guess the whole teenager thing won't be too bad. After all, Charles Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters is and has been the facade of the X-Men since the beginning. And I think it foregrounds the concept of control that is very important in the comic book. (Controlling their powers, controlling their emotions, controlling the populace's fear/reaction to the new unknown, etc.)

I also watched [Static Shock], a fairly new show also about kids with powers. These kids are called "bang babies," apparently the result of some explosion of a top-secret mutagenic project (interesting how adults weren't affected, seemingly, by the explosion--only kids and teens). I've seen maybe one or two other episodes before today's. What's interesting with this show is the problem of dealing with new-found power and the ability to destroy or dominate others. The show's message is that those who use their powers to dominate others are bad. Those who use their powers to save humans from domination are good. Simplistic as the idea may be, I have hopes that it will develop interesting situations. Plus, I just like cartoons.

      >> 12:29 PM

So as I'm typing, Joe is sitting on the futon-couch trying to "feel better." He looks so cute, but he isn't feeling well--dizziness and general malaise getting the better of him since yesterday morning.

We did go see Meet the Parents anyways. And it made Joe (and me) laugh, so I think that was a good thing. But it didn't really make him feel less sick. We ended up spending the rest of the evening just watching TV.

On the subject of Meet the Parents, I thought it was a laughing movie with mayhem and abusrd situations/occurrences that only spiral faster and faster out of hand. The underlying theme, though, was so trite and left me with a slight feeling of nausea. Like that other Ben Stiller movie, There's Something About Mary, the comedy is more or less along the lines of Murphy's Law (what can possibly go wrong will go wrong) as a force that exposes lies. But what the movie does with what is revealed is just plain sappy, reinforcing ideas of paternal rights over daughters' futures and also that whole handing over of the daughter to another man thing.

Anyways, some of the previews were even worse. There's this movie coming out with Nicholas Cage and Tea Leoni called [The Family Man] that seems to me to be yet another fervent wish to reclaim the ideal state of suburban family-hood. Cage plays a high-powered Wall Street type (oooo....bad money-grubbing person) who gets a chance to see what his life would be like if he had decided to settle down with his college sweetheart, starting a family in lieu of making millions. So on the surface, as with most Hollywood movies, the capitalist/get-rich ideal is trashed in favor of this ideal of a nuclear family and the children in which life's meanings ultimately MUST reside (where else could they POSSIBLY be?).

But yeah. At least Jim Carrey's new movie, [Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas] looks like it'll be fun.

      >> 11:53 AM

Friday, November 03, 2000

Speaking of cars and stuff, I still need to get my North Carolina driver's license. It wouldn't be such a big deal except my California license expires the end of December. I've been meaning to brave the DMV since I got here, but keep forgetting . . .

      >> 1:24 PM

Going to see [Meet the Parents] this afternoon with Joe. Hope it will be fun. Joe thinks [Ben Stiller] is cute. Guess he has a certain appeal. This outing should be good for Mr. Stress-case, too. He needs to relax. Chill out. Enjoy life. Etc. etc. etc.

Of course, it could be a problem if the movie somehow (not likely, I know) really gets us thinking about "meeting the parents." Even though I'm out to my parents, I haven't really gotten around to telling them about Joe. Mainly because I just haven't gotten around to talking to them much. I'm at a point in my relationship with them where it's just easier not to communicate with them. I know, I'm just an escapist at heart. And of course, Joe's family (except his gay cousin) knows nothing about his . . . proclivities . . .

      >> 11:47 AM

My car is dying. Three years old and at the end of its life. Well, it's probably not all that dramatic. But it certainly frustrated the hell out of me this morning. I started the car and everything was fine. I got out of the car to clear the back window (why is it that most of the other cars in the parking lot didn't have condensation on their back windows?), then got back in the car not more than a minute later. As I was settling in, putting my seatbelt on and everything, the car gave a curious sigh and then whimpered into silence. Huh? I looked at the display panel and realized that the engine was not on. Had I just mistakenly thought I had started the engine? Hmmmm. So I turned the key in the ignition and started up the car. For a split second, things seemed okay, the tachometer (love that word) needle moved ever so slightly clockwise, as it does when I start the car. But then, again, the sigh, a whimper, and then nothing. What the $#%@!!??

Anyways, repeat the last few actions about five times. I just about give up, thinking that even if the car starts and stays running, it might not be the wisest thing to try driving on the highway in case it does feel like going back to sleep randomly. But, how else am I getting to work? I could've asked to borrow Joe's car, but I don't know how to drive a manual transmission car very well (as long as I don't have to stop, I'm usually fine). I didn't want to deal with the hassle of not showing up to work on time if I took the bus instead, so when my car finally woke up after repeated bludgeons, I took a deep breath, shifted into reverse, and backed out of the parking space. Off I went. And I made it safely here to campus. So I've decided that if the car starts without any problems when I leave work today, I'll wait until next week before taking it in to the auto shop. Of course, if it doesn't start up, I'll have to get it towed anyways. What a pain.

      >> 7:38 AM

Thursday, November 02, 2000

I think it's kind of cool that there are a lot of people out there who think that we make ourselves through writing, language, images, etc. I mean, it's something I've always sort of struggled with. What is experience but the relating of it? Even memories seem to be a rehearsing by way of images, words, sounds, smells, etc. of experience. So is there really something we can call experience, unmediated by its representations?

      >> 7:28 PM

Must . . . go . . . do . . . laundry . . .

More on [relationships]?

      >> 7:13 PM

Fun fun! Can't wait to see the new [X-Men Evolution] cartoon series on Saturday morning! Sounds kind of strange that they're messing around with the stories, characters, and timelines from the comic book, though. The X-Men as teenagers. Well, yeah. And that's largely their appeal--the mutant X-Men who don't quite fit into conventional society, yet are destined to be an integral part of it or face being branded as outcasts. What teenager doesn't face the same dilemma? But couldn't they do a series with [The New Mutants] or one of the other groups in the comic books that was focused on teens and kids? (I guess they don't have the brand-name recognition that X-Men does.)

      >> 7:49 AM

Wednesday, November 01, 2000

[Mari Matsuda] is one of my [heroes]. I also like the fact that she worked with her [husband], [Charles Lawrence, III], on a book on affirmative action titled We Won't Go Back. Collaborations with significant others are interesting offspring in general.

I've been looking up stuff on Mari Matsuda and critical race theory on the web because (1) I'm stuck here in the [SITES lab] unexpectedly (covering for sick staff) and (2) I'm considering taking a class next semester with [Wahneema Lubiano] on US Black-centered discourses, including critical race theory, black queer studies, and black feminism.

I was considering going to law school as recently as this past April/May because of critical race theory's kick-ass analysis of law and legal discourse. (The [on-line] course overview to a random class at the University of Illinois condenses well the appeal of critical race theory to me.) But in the end, I decided it would be best for me to approach this kind of critical analysis through a discipline (the study of anglophone literature) in which I have other interests.

So, I have this list of books I'm planning on checking out from the library as soon as I get off work here at 5 pm. And I'm now realizing that I really should be working on classes I have this semester instead of looking foward to next semester. I still need to write my three term papers!

      >> 1:33 PM

I could've written [this].

      >> 11:49 AM

A love letter.

I hope you're reading this.

Damn it all to hell. Why is it so hard sometimes to be in a relationship? Why do we come up on the same stumbling blocks over and over again? Or at least I do. He just seems to continue on in his same vein and nothing ever seems to change. It's not enough just to "talk." Something has to change.

But . . .

Then I begin to wonder, well, is it worth changing? Are these things about our selves, our personalities, that might best be kept as they are, and if we can't reconcile our differences, then maybe it's best to move on? Or is that just the defeatist in me?

What I want is attention. Pure and simple. Selfish. Call it what you want, but an acknowledgement of me, me, me! I don't want a life that is just superficially shared. It's not enough that we live in the same apartment, share the same bed, cook for each other. Yes, these things can (and should?) be part of the building blocks to our shared lives, but . . .

What do you think of the stilted silence I feel pervades our interaction? Dinners in silence, or in front of the television. Conversation otherwise limited to your stress. And yes, I know it's often because I refuse to respond. I often seem not to want to talk about what's going on in my life. But you cannot say you have not been responsive, either. There's this distractedness often in your manner, a preoccupation. And sure, you tell me about your job, your work, your stress and I know you are preoccupied. But really, isn't there any room left for me? Help me figure out why I feel I can't talk to you, because god knows I've tried so hard to figure it out myself.

One might trace this problem to the start of our relationship, when you (at least in my mind, I know you denied it) would go on-line to chat rooms after I had fallen asleep and proceeded to keep this part of your life a secret. Your reasoning? You weren't doing anything "wrong," so you didn't have to "confess" anything. But the problem? It's obviously a big part of your life, meeting new people and all. Doesn't it make sense that I want to know?

It seems that every night, you make time for at least an hour of being on-line, usually more like all evening. And yes, I know that you are doing other things on the Internet as well, looking up information for your research and everything. But, why don't you ever spend any of that time being with me? Do you realize we don't really have "fun" together? And I'm not even really talking about doing something like going to see a movie, but actually, truly, physically, mentally, emotionally, just enjoying each other's company. It's my sense that maybe you do think you feel this way just being around me, but I can't share in that feeling when you're always in the other room, typing away on your keyboard, focused intently on the pop-up windows of AIM while I try desperately to fall asleep so I don't have to think about it . . .

At this point you might want to cry foul play and insist that you are affectionate, etc. But it's more than the small moments (which I do appreciate) that I'm concerned with here. I'm thinking about the vast gaps of emptiness I feel when we're not holding each other, when I go to bed early to get away from that emptiness, hoping you will come join me soon in bed, but you never do, contentedly typing away.

I also realized the other night when I talked to my sister about you and me that I started this blog in part because I couldn't have these thoughts with you. These things I write about, the musings, less the random linkings and ramblings, but more the tortured (ha) questionings of things in my life, are what go through my mind on a daily basis. And it happens in silence, an awful swelling in my head that I don't have a way of relieving except through these writings.

What I'm searching for, I suppose, is that feeling I sometimes have, when you perhaps respond to me in certain ways, or when I find us in particular situations, of complete euphoria. I realize I probably cannot be in this state at all times, but to be content would be nice, too. I want to wake up in the mornings, holding you, or you holding me, thinking, "Am I in heaven?" So where has that closeness gone? Can I/we get it back?

Are you upset that I've posted this to the web so that it is potentially viewable by others? I'm sorry, but these are things that weigh so heavily on my mind. I need to let someone else know. I can't let it trap me. This is one way for me to get it out. Perhaps not the best way, but the only way I see fit now.

Well, welcome to November.

      >> 8:02 AM