Friday, May 31, 2002

[tiny vespers, jhames]:

I read the prayer on my monitor at least ten times a day. I donít read it for the actual words, rather I admire the work put into such a small hope for something better after life. Is it bad that I am taking the prayers for myself or that we are working so hard on an afterlife and never taking the time to appreciate the life we have today?

      >> 6:39 PM

Isn't it ironic, don't you think? I was worried that I would have car problems or get into a car accident this past weekend when I drove all the way to Boston and around all these places I'm unfamiliar with. But noooo. I get back, and then proceed to ram my car into a pole in my own parking lot. I guess it is in the end better to have a minor setback at home than anything else on the road, though.

If you see a beige-tan-silver-ish Honda Accord driving around without a front bumper in the next week or so, wave!

      >> 5:38 PM

I watched [Drift] last night on video. It's a film by Quentin Lee, a filmmaker I'd heard of because of a film he made in 1997 called Shopping for Fangs. I never could find it in the theaters or in video stores, though, so I was pleasantly surprised to see his name on the cover of the video box for Drift in the store.

The film was okay and definitely more than a little touching for me because of my circumstances. It's about the breakup of an almost-three year relationship and the possibilities of how the two lovers negotiate their future. Lee offers three different possibilities for how the story turns out, and it's really the subtlety of seeing these characters' lives overlap and disconnect that makes the film worth watching.

Then this morning I watched [Ladyhawke] with Rob because he had mentioned in an e-mail how we're sort of like Rutger Hauer and Michelle Pfeiffer in the story, together but cursed never to be together. In the movie, Navarre (Hauer) is a man by day, a wolf by night; Isabeau (Pfeiffer) is a hawk by day, a woman by night. Their love is thwarted by the evil curse of the corrupt bishop who couldn't stand to see Isabeau in love with another man, rejecting his advances. Though our relationship is far less dramatic, Rob's night shift work mostly has him awake at night and asleep during the day while I'm awake during the day and asleep at night. I think Rob tends to stay up far more than he should so that we can be awake together. Today he drove around and helped me take my car to the body shop, for example, when he should've been home in bed.

      >> 5:04 PM

I did something really stupid today. I tore the front bumper off my car backing out of the parking lot. I was sloppy and in a hurry, so I turned the wheel too fast and neatly knocked over a wooden pole along the edge of the lot. Now it'll cost me some four or five hundred dollars to reattach the bumper. I was very bummed out right after stopping by the body shop. I'm going to look around at some other places first, though, because this place can't even get to my car until next week.

      >> 4:53 PM

Thursday, May 30, 2002

Leaving Greenlaw Hall today, I saw a squirrel fiddling with a take-out condiment packet of mayo. The squirrel was spinning the thing like a baton or something. Very strange.

I've decided there are two kinds of lovers in this world: the kind who love what they have and the kind who love what they don't have.

I saw [Life and Debt], a film about international economies and Jamaica. A very heartwarming story about love and hope. Errr. No. Actually, it's a very heavy-handed critique of the economic policies of the IMF and the World Bank. I can't understand why anyone would want to produce an "international economy" (characterized by complete free trade which translates into exploitation of smaller markets by multinational corporations) at all, let alone at the expense of the livelihoods and lives of millions of people around the world. The film isn't playing at many places, so if it's around somewhere you are, GO SEE IT! It'll make you rethink the privileges of that Caribbean vacation.

      >> 9:39 PM

[Thinking around corners]:

Just once, on the Lehrer report, I'd love to hear a politician say, "You know, Jim, beats the hell out of me." I long to hear Chris Matthews intone: "Both sides have valid points. Let's see if we can find a third way." I would be thrilled if the chaos and doubt that is our constant companion as we ponder problems were reflected in our political discussions.

      >> 3:41 PM

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

Donít you know that what you do is against the Bibleís and Jesusís teaching? Arenít you scared of Godís judgment?
Snappy response #1: Whatís a Bible? Never heard of Jesus.
Snappy response #2: If I were you Iíd be more scared of Godís judgment of stupid people. When that happens, you better run.

(From [Instinct Magazine's "Shut Up, You! Snappy Gay Answers to Stupid Straight Questions"], found @ [8letters].)

      >> 11:01 PM

In Bee Season, Myla Goldberg presents a portrait of a kleptomaniac motivated by a need to find and free certain items in stores. This kleptomaniac wanders through stores until the right item makes itself known to her.

Today I was in the music store passing time before the interview I thought was at 3 pm. I wasn't planning on buying any cd, but as I browsed, I came across [Dawn Robinson's] solo album debut. I had been waiting for her solo record since she left En Vogue (noting with disappointment her second-fiddle-work on the project Lucy Pearl). But it's out now! And has been for a few months, apparently. Funny how it's as if the album drew me to the store, drew me to browse in that particular section of the rows and rows of music....

      >> 10:21 PM

I often make like it doesn't matter to me what my parents say. But it's all a sham. More than anything, I want to be able to tell my parents about myself, about what I do. Instead, I refrain from telling them anything. And only if they ask me direct questions about things will I tell them anything.

I'm tired of the kind of advice they give me. They want me to be "normal," to be straight, to become a professional, to concern myself with making money, and all sorts of things that I just don't want my life to be. I want to be able to talk to them about things I'm doing, how excited I get about books, what I imagine myself doing as a professor of literature. I want to be able to call them up when I'm feeling depressed or dissatisfied (like now), especially if it's not about any specific thing, but a generalized blasé attitude. But I can't. If I do, they will just tell me that I am leading my life the wrong way and that I just need to straighten out to be happy. Or they will say that I've damned myself to unhappiness because I tried to take the easy way in life (??).

      >> 9:07 PM

[Moving to Catch a Muse]:

"It was a theatrical gesture, trying to create an environment that looked like a 40's movie where everyone goes to Connecticut for the weekend," he continued. "It gave me a sense of safety and well-being because it looked like I had always lived here. It evoked a false sense of history."

Which was in direct opposition to his writing, which starkly reveals the truths of a very painful family story. "Furnishing the house gave me a little vacation time from that process," he said. "And there are model boats everywhere because I was going back to being a kid." He even bought himself a teddy bear.

      >> 7:41 PM

[Robots Find a Muse Other Than Mayhem]:

The fanciest hardware belonged to Roving Walter Walter, built by two visiting Belgian artists calling themselves mXHz.org (for "machine-centered humanz"). It darted around the floor as if it were R2-D2, sampling sounds from the room that were meant to inspire its own audio stream. On Saturday it would emit only a low repetitive growl. But Guy van Belle, one of its creators, refused to tinker with its algorithms, saying the robot knew best.

"We have to allow our autonomous robots to make their own decisions, whether the humans like it or not," he said.

      >> 7:39 PM

Catching Up

Got back yesterday from my week up in the Northeast. That drive is horrendously long. But it was a wonderful trip. Lots of time to catch up with all the people I miss from the area. Thursday I drove up to Providence to visit my sister. Hung out with her all Friday. Then Saturday I drove up to Cambridge/Boston to hang out with two friends from high school (one is there for grad school, the other was visiting from California). Then Sunday I drove back down to New York for a graduation lunch for my friend [Eric]. Then up to New Haven in the evening where I met up with Fuzzy and caught up with her. Hadn't seen her in over a year, I think. :( And then Monday was the graduation ceremonies for Eric and Joe. And then I drove home.

Today I missed an interview I had for a web intern position at [The Carolina Women's Center]. I don't know why I thought it was at 3 because it was at 2. Oops. We rescheduled for tomorrow at 3. This time I made sure to write it down.

Other than that, I'm just trying to get things together still. Lots of reading, accessing articles to my files, and starting to revise my thesis for publication as a journal article. Busy busy busy, but with totally unstructured time. Daunting.

      >> 5:29 PM

Friday, May 24, 2002

["Orientalist Kitsch"]: article on the Abercrombie and Fitch t-shirts. I saw a white teenage guy wearing the Wok 'n Bowl shirt in Durham the other day. I really do agree with slander's call for more nuanced critiques of representational politics in popular culture, but at some level, I wonder how such a critique could still be attentive to the offensive elements of the t-shirts. Sure, it's easy just to not be offended by the stereotypes on the shirts, but given the history of such stereotypes, there are going to be people who are offended by them. And even though I don't want to say that anything offensive is bad, should be pulled from stores, etc., at some level isn't it important to deal with the representational force of things? Isn't it important to consider how to deal with a commodity aesthetics that does take on a problematic parody for profit? Recognizing the contradictions and complications of the situation doesn't negate the importance of countering the way the stereotypes of Asian men do work to define and denigrate...

      >> 11:32 PM

Thursday, May 23, 2002


I miss you already.

      >> 4:37 AM

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

The new Star Wars movie really makes me think about one thing, though: why monarchy? This is a question I found myself trying to tackle in my paper on Pauline Hopkins's Of One Blood where the hero finds out that he is the long-awaited king of Ethiopia. The question really is, why monarchy in the face of democracy? Or, why do writers/filmmakers turn to monarchy and the regal when they also seem to make a commitment to democracy?

In the original Star Wars trilogy, the fact that Princess Leia was royalty was fairly unproblematic. In the new trilogy, when we see the pre-fascistic Republic as a democracy with an intergalactic senate, we also learn that Queen Amidala was in fact elected as such (followed by her appointment to the Senate by the new queen when her regal term ran out). And yet, Padme seems to hold considerably more sway over the minds and hopes of her people (or reflects them?) than the new Queen. I think it's a case of George Lucas not wanting to advance a desire for a monarchy or dictatorship. Imposing the senate as a form of democracy is a simple solution, but one quickly done away with when the representatives cede all power to that one evil guy. I hesitate to say that such insistence on models of monarchy or dictatorship seem to indicate an urge by people to have a strong, single leader, but it might be the case. There's something more palpable about a leader as opposed to the more amorphous body of representatives. (And now I'm reminded of Dana Nelson's work on presidentialism, the construction of the President as the figurehead of our country.)

      >> 2:01 PM

Watched [The Iron Giant] last night. It was cute. Nice to have a definitively anti-Cold War ideology animation film. I liked how the movie foregrounded the illogic of shoot-first thinking, of destroying all foreign things because they might be out to kill you. And the Hogarth's lesson to the giant about making yourself who you want to be is first-rate idealism. I'm not so keen on the childhood innocence thing, though, or the way this idealism is couched in childhood, because it naturalizes the progression from innocence to jadedness in adulthood. Instead, as shown through the example of the giant, it might be more reasonable and helpful to assume that "innocence" and a non-aggressive ideology is perhaps something we need to cultivate and learn (repeatedly). It's not something we start off with in life, then lose as we see the evils and travails of life. But it is something that we must continually assert and project outward.

Yesterday I also saw Attack of the Clones which was awful in so many ways, but funny at the same time. Let me repeat, Yoda kicks ass!!

And I watched [Twin Falls Idaho] as well. The first half of the movie was really good. I liked all the nuances of togetherness that conjoined twins Blake and Francis Falls exhibited. But then halfway through, the movie took on a maudlin tone with the conflict of freakishness and exhibition.

I have been watching a lot of movies lately (checked out from the library) because I can, and also because I don't have enough focus or concentration to read or write. Of the seven movies I checked out this week, I only didn't finish watching Ride With the Devil because it just wasn't doing it for me. Fairly awful stuff, though Tobey Maguire was in it. Some sort of Civil War flick with violent killings and such.

      >> 1:22 PM

[Stephen Jay Gould, Biologist and Theorist of Evolution, Dies at 60]: I just picked up a used copy of Stephen Jay Gould's The Mismeasure of Man a few weeks ago to read in conjunction with Edward Stein's The Mismeasure of Desire. (Is there a connection? I don't know. I haven't read either yet.)

      >> 10:28 AM

Monday, May 20, 2002

dot dot dot

I'm sure I must be on mental-emotional freeze. I don't feel particularly like doing anything. If life could be stasis, would I take it? That particular moment, the smile, the angle of his head. Can't that be enough?

      >> 7:25 PM

Yoda kicks ass!!

      >> 2:08 PM

Sunday, May 19, 2002

Note to self: Must rent [Fatal Frame] for the PS2 (or buy it). Novelist. Researchers. Disappearances. The special sight of the camera. What else do you need in a game???

      >> 9:16 PM

I'm not too jaded to believe that the abolition of property rights as the basis of a society (especially as structured through its laws) can be the single most transformative and important step towards a progressive revolution of access, privilege, and basic human rights.

I've been thinking about doing a reading of feminist and queer manifestoes. I'd mentioned this possible project to a professor about a year ago, and [he] e-mailed me a link to this article today: [The Department of Sanitation's Artist in Residence]. The artist profiled in the article, Mierle Ukeles, wrote "Manifesto for Maintenance Art, 1969" which the article's author describes as "a vivid theoretical document linking feminism, social activism, ecology and an institutional critique to aspects of performance and process art."

This evening, I came across this other art project [FREE MANIFESTA] by artist [Sal Rudolph] via another project of hers, [Free Words], that I found via [jhames.com]. (I must find the book Free Words. I am also interested in the sticky realm of intellectual property, the ownership of words and ideas, the ability to copyright your thoughts. There is a lot of fascinating stuff going on with intellectual property rights and computer technology, which has dramatically altered the ways we can reproduce and disseminate thoughts and previously copyright-able and limit-able things.) The press release for FREE MANIFESTA states of the project, "It is intended as an experiment in creating a social network of artists, a gift economy which that [sic] can act as an alternative to traditional forms of exhibition in commercial and institutional contexts."

Much as I'm frightened of economics as a field of study, I find the idea of economies and exchange fascinating. I wrote my master's thesis on the presentation of economic exchange of the body (in prostitution, in love, etc.), one site of particularly fraught meanings, in Lawrence Chua's Gold by the Inch. But exchange is also caught up in this idea of property and ownership. In capitalism as well as in communism, value resides in the process of exchange. (In capitalism, that exchange is extolled as necessary and natural; in communism, that exchange is seen as the root of the evils of capitalism.) In order to exchange something, the logic is that one must first own that thing (whether it be a commodity for sale or your own body in prostitution). To speak of the exploitation of labor and other resources, of course, assumes that the exploiter does not have ownership over those things. I think that's why communism holds as a basic tenet the abnegation of individual property rights, especially ownership of the means of production by individuals. Shifting ownership away from the individual seems to be an important step.

But the problem remains that someone -- the state -- still owns those resources in order to extract value. Is there some other way to sidestep the issues that come with this naturalized process of generating value?

      >> 9:03 PM

It's probably no surprise that I sometimes watch Book TV on CSPAN2. Just now, Ken Smith, author of Junk English, is on the show talking about his book and the deterioration of English into varieties of dialects, slang, and jargon. He wants us to return to a Thomas Paine-like simple English (largely monosyllabic?) that means something. He also makes some claims that the explosion of English "junk words" is the result of consumerism, corporatization, globalization, capitalism, communism. I don't quite follow his logic. It seems that he is trying to bend all sorts of ideologies and discourses into a common tragedy of destroying simple English.

I find it odd that he, or anyone else, could think of language -- particularly English -- as something so simply referential. Yes, words mean things, but they only do so in the act of their employment, in how they are used as tools to convey meanings. They are not in themselves the holders of meaning. But it seems that he wants us to "return" to an understanding of language that would erase the rich genealogies of words. Just look at the Oxford English Dictionary, for example, to see how our language has changed over the centuries, how incredibly dynamic its meanings are, how nuanced and shifting it can be.

      >> 4:07 PM

Saturday, May 18, 2002

I hate either/or logics.

I believe in the power of belief and the possibilities of change through creative reimaginings. Harvey as an idea is great; Elwood P. Dowd, the man whose six-foot rabbit friend is really besides the point of his attitude towards the world; a charming, loving man whose deeds and friendliness puzzles some, but brightens the lives of most around him.

      >> 4:57 PM

Whee whoo!

It's been a movie marathon week. Just finished watching Carl Theodore Dreyer's Vampyr. Earlier this week saw Billy Elliott, Planet of the Apes (the new one), and Harvey. I have Twin Falls Idaho and Ride with the Devil waiting. I love being able to check out movies from the library. Libraries rule.

I might have some thoughts about the movies if my brain hadn't shut down for the next few weeks.

      >> 2:16 PM

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

It's official (letter dated May 13, 2002):
Dear Paul:

It gives me great pleasure to tell you that the Graduate Advisory Committee voted to grant your request to proceed beyond the Master's degree.

Please remember the new Graduate School requirement that students given permission to proceed beyond master's level work must register for doctoral studies in the following regular semester (unless they request a formal leave of absence).

Let me commend you on your past work and wish you the best of luck in the future.

           Sincerely yours,

           Director of Graduate Studies


      >> 9:57 AM

Tuesday, May 14, 2002

Speaking of [revisionary poetry], [Mark] and I were chatting on-line a few nights ago about things and came across the topic of music that deconstructs/reconstructs other songs. He mentioned this [John Oswald] guy who has done a lot of work creating and altering music.
Plunderphonics is a cultural paradox, one of the only truly underground musical phenomena to emerge in the latter quarter of the 20th century ("This art is more radical in its social and political associations than the introduction of the electric guitar"), yet featuring some of the world's most recognizable music imbedded in novel constellations of sonic diversity by John Oswald. Mr. Oswald flew past the level of mere sampling. He has taken sampling fifty times beyond what we've come to expect.

Umm. Brain not working now. That's all I have to say. Good bye.

      >> 12:30 PM

Monday, May 13, 2002

We rearranged the furniture in the living room today. The mismatched pieces are hard to coordinate in a way that makes visual and pratical sense. My table is HUGE (that feature being the main reason why I bought it) and looks awkward in the room with the other, diminuitive furniture. But after an afternoon of moving things around (at one point getting back to the original configuration and having a laughing fit), we found a setup that is new, daring, and fun. At least for now.

Still working on accessioning photocopied articles and chapters into my Endnote database. I've reached 110 references at this point (not moving too fast) and have gotten to only about a quarter of the articles in my collection. What a massive project I've undertaken!

Tomorrow (or rather, later this morning after I sleep), I will go to campus to read my course evaluations. We'll see what the little kiddies said about me and the class.

      >> 11:26 PM

Kisses for Joe.

      >> 11:23 PM

Friday, May 10, 2002

YAY! [What, Indeed] and [What, Indeed Part 2]. I want Spiderman to save me, too!

      >> 10:05 PM

[Endnote], here I come. I am about to undertake the gargantuan task of entering my two-hundred-odd photocopied articles and book chapters into an Endnote database so I can actually use these piles of paper as resources rather than just as space-consumers. I'm going to alphabetize all the articles by author and stick them in file folders and crates. Yay! Friday night fun, for sure.

      >> 8:16 PM

Oh, and I shaved my head yesterday out of frustration. Actually, I promised myself the reward of shaving my head after finishing the paper. So of course I ended up shaving my head within a couple hours of making that promise, despite not making any progress on the paper.

      >> 5:22 PM

Riley: You're really strong, like Spiderman strong.
Buffy: I'm the Slayer.

I learned today that I cannot use both the microwave and the toaster oven at the same time. The power strip has a fit and switches off. I guess it's better than blowing a fuse somewhere else. I was so hungry getting home I popped an Eggo blueberry waffle in the toaster and a Morningstar Grillers Prime veggie burger pattie in the microwave. Then it all went quiet. And I was confused. But not for long, because I am DONE!!! Yay! I turned in the paper at approximately 4 pm today, only five days late. And it's all over. Kind of anticlimactic, though. After I dropped the paper off, I didn't know what to do. I sort of hung around the department building and talked to an acquaintance. Then I headed home in the rush hour traffic. That sure wasn't fun. Witnessed a near-accident (fender bender) that could've turned ugly if the driver had swerved into my lane (right into me).

      >> 4:56 PM

Those of you with the resources, please pledge some money to support my friend [Patrick (rider 1291)] and his boyfriend on the [AIDS Ride, Washington DC]!

      >> 11:00 AM

Thursday, May 09, 2002

"I reserve . . . I reserve . . . I reserve . . . I reserve . . . I resolve . . . I have a reservation . . . I have a reservation . . . What do you mean it's not in the computer?!!" I love how Madonna's Like a Prayer album ends with a musical reprise of "Like a Prayer," but with a strange narrative confession/prayer and example of phonetic word-play overlaying the electric guitar-driven, hand-clapping, choral celebration.

[At a Cultural Crossroads, Yo Yo Ma Becomes a Spice Trader]: "Inspired by the idea of the continuous cultural exchange that must have taken place along the ancient trade routes between Asia and Europe, Mr. Ma has revived and updated the musical part of that exchange. In the process, he has framed the argument that multiculturalism can enliven the European and American classical tradition." I like it when people move away from the idea of the cultural as distinct and pure, rooted in isolated populations, and towards thinking of culture as always dynamic, porous, involving the exchange of cultural forms between peoples.

      >> 5:43 PM

YAY! Got my bound thesis back from the woman who runs a little book-binding and repair workshop out of her basement in Durham. It looks AMAZING! She made a slipcover free of charge because she needed the practice, she said. It looks so cool. Cloth-bound. Mmm....

I will write this paper by tonight, even if it kills me.

      >> 10:01 AM

Wednesday, May 08, 2002

Apologies for the profanity. Still working on the paper. Posting some in my [livejournal]. Yes, I have icons now. (Sorry, [bj].) Don't know how I'll manage the weblog/livejournal split, if at all. Too many forums for posting personal thoughts. Still miffed by some people. Don't know if my comments on this weblog are upsetting people or not.

Stopped by a professor's house this morning with Rob to check it out for a possible (likely) housesitting job for three weeks in June/July. It is an amazing forty-acre property with dogs, a cat, a parakeet, guinea hens, peacocks, DUCKS, geese, and probably some other animals. There are two swimming pools (one inside, one outside), a jacuzzi, a sauna, a piano, lots of BOOKS, and lots of nice outdoor hanging-out space. It will be a heavenly three weeks.

. . .

Take the What High School Stereotype Are You? quiz, by Angel.

      >> 10:52 AM

Tuesday, May 07, 2002


At least there's a new [Buffy] episode tonight.

      >> 2:06 PM

Monday, May 06, 2002


      >> 4:51 PM

Saturday, May 04, 2002

I think one of my projects this summer will be to write some poems based on reconstructing the words of another text. This semester, I talked to my students about Annie Dillard's Mornings Like This and Mei-mei Berssenbrugge's "The Four Year Old Girl," both of which relied heavily on the words and ideas of other texts. Dillard expressly reconstructed phrases and sentences from other texts, never adding words, though sometimes deleting some from chosen sentences. Berssenbrugge used choice phrases, words, linguistic constructions, and ideas from a variety of scientific and philosophical works in writing her poem about genetic disease and suffering illness. I think it's a fascinating concept. I'm familiar with collage-work in the visual arts, but I hadn't thought much about this kind of writing, a textual-collage. When I first thought about teaching my students about writing about poetry, I thought turning to these two works would be helpful to disrupt their notions of the poet's creation spring from within, unsullied by social contact.

      >> 3:07 PM

Friday, May 03, 2002

Geeky I am. I took a breather from grading/writing paper today to read a couple of selections from Our Monica, Ourselves, the anthology of writings analyzing the Clinton/Lewinsky affair. Specifically, I looked at editors Lauren Berlant and Lisa Duggan's introduction and the essay dialogue between Dana Nelson and [Tyler Curtain]. I want to be smart. The Nelson-Curtain piece looked at the affair in order to analyze democratic representational politics as embodied in the figure of the president. Nelson discusses "presidentialism" as the process by which we as a polity eschew our democratic obligations, investing ourselves in the idea of the President. As a consequence, we face the difficulty of negotiating the personal/political split, the politics of determining what constitutes appropriate behavior for such an important figure-head. Curtain brings to the analysis a theoretical discussion of the queer-sexual politics involved in both presidentialism and specifically the Clinton/Lewinsky affair. I'm fascinated by these kinds of discussions of democracy that reveal the intricacies and imbrications of morality and sexuality.

On another geeky note, Rob laughingly told me this morning when he stopped by at the movie theater to pick up tickets for Spidey that there was a line full of geekiness: unshaven twenty-something guys who all looked like him. Apparently, advance tickets for Star Wars went on sale today, too. By the time I got to the theater, though, the line had been digested, so I guess it wasn't too huge a crowd.

      >> 8:43 PM

Mmm.... [poster]...

      >> 5:59 PM

[It.] Was. So. Good. The best comic-book-turned-movie movie EVER!

      >> 3:48 PM

Yay! ["Muscles Ripple, Webs Unfurl, Hormones Race."] (The reviewer seems to like the movie despite her/himself.) One hour and forty-five more minutes!

Some choice lines from the review:

"With his wide eyes and soft, mobile mouth, Mr. Maguire seems at once knowing and vulnerable; more than any other actor in his 20's, he embodies the generational trait of expressing irony and earnestness as if there were no difference between them."

"It's not that these effects look cheap. Quite the opposite: they look like a waste of money."

"But if the scenes of fighting and flying don't add to the fun of 'Spider-Man,' they don't manage to spoil it either. Mr. Raimi is a master of pop realism, unafraid of easy jokes and corny sentiment and willing to give the actors room to find moments of offhand wit and genuine tenderness."

"The last scene between Peter and Mary Jane, whose romance gives the movie an old-Hollywood ache, is like something out of a Henry James novel, if you can imagine a Henry James novel with lots of special effects and a sequel already in the works."

      >> 9:15 AM

such a lovely world
oh so magical

[Spider-Man] at noon.

I've graded most of my students' papers. Took all of yesterday, though. After the movie, I'll finish up the last two papers, tabulate final grades, and spit out summary evaluations for the kids. Sad, though, that like last semester, the one student I was really rooting for to get an A ended up with a B (probably B+). Her writing just didn't improve enough. I hate grades.

so the story goes
the lies and the miracle unfold

I love [Erasure]. Listening now to my first album of theirs and still my favorite: [I Say, I Say, I Say]. It's funny, but I think Erasure had a huge following among Asian American youth in the late eighties and early nineties. I wonder how much of an effect singer Andy Bell's homosexuality had on the duo's appeal to various communities. I still think it's amazing that Vince Clarke, the non-homosexual half of Erasure, wasn't afraid to don a dress to participate in Bell's campier sensibilities.

It's really kind of sad to follow their recent career, though, because they -- or their record label, or both -- seem so caught up in making it onto the pop charts with each single. Their greatest hits album was called Pop! the first 20 hits. And since it seems like their subsequent singles weren't making it into the top twenty of the pop charts, they have started doing all sorts of weird things releasing their music, like releasing their singles as non-chart-eligible EPs with acoustic tracks, etc. All very odd.

      >> 8:48 AM

Thursday, May 02, 2002

Yesterday I wanted to get a tattoo, dye my hair outrageous colors, pierce the top of my ear, or otherwise mark myself indelibly. I settled for painting my left pinky fingernail a cool grey. Sometimes I get these urges to disrupt what I perceive as how others see me as a nerdy, "normal" Asian guy: short hair, unassuming clothes (t-shirt and jeans mostly), skinny, etc. I want to make myself look different. But I realize how silly that need to look different is (what's wrong with my skinny, nerdy self?), even as I still think there is something important in presenting an appearance of difference to a world (or country or region) that homogenizes Asian difference.

I dunno. In college, when I did dye my hair a few times and got my [tragus piercing], I was surrounded by people who saw themselves as different, queer. My friends had different color hair, multiple piercings, and otherwise dressed themselves deliberately in a non-Gap, non-A&F way. Here, though I wouldn't say my social circle is necessarily Gap- or A&F-influenced, my friends are college-preppy or otherwise committed to a sense of propriety in appearance. And I know that a large part of this is the whole "professional" thing, of being apprentices to a professional career (university professor) and such. But that's not for a few years yet, at least, and why shouldn't we dye our hair outrageous colors and get tattoos even if we are university professors? Argh. I just don't like the subtle pull of social pressures towards being normal-looking. Like when my friends here give me discouraging looks when I mention wanting to dye my hair blue instead of getting as excited as I do like my friend Fuzzy. Like when people in the department compliment me on my hair when it's short and clean-cut the way the average guy has his hair, but not when it's buzzed or in-between spiky like it often has been these last two years. It's kinda depressing. I think I'm developing a sort of double-consciousness about countercultural or subcultural aesthetics, too, because I see what my friends here think about the need to look different and it seems trivial, counterproductive (though do I want to be productive in that way of reinforcing norms?) while at the same time I still yearn to escape the usual.

      >> 5:56 AM

Wednesday, May 01, 2002

I have this thing for singers who cross the gender line vocally: that is, I get all squishy inside when I hear guys with voices of women, women with voices of guys. I think it's the whole gender/sexual indeterminacy of such music that intrigues me. [Holcombe Waller] (at times) and [Cassandra Wilson] do this for me. I was listening to Wilson's newest album in the music store, but didn't end up buying it because I'm trying to decrease the number of cds in my music collection.

I did pick up [Darren Hayes's] solo effort, though, because I had heard snippets of it on tv earlier today and went to the store especially for it. Hayes's tenor/falsetto sometimes evokes a woman's voice, but not as much as Waller and Wilson. And as I'm writing this, I'm wondering what it is exactly that marks gender in voices since there are many male voices that are higher than female voices and women's lower than men's. It is not solely a function of pitch. Is there a tonal quality, perhaps of resonances and harmonies, that fixes gendered voices? Now that I'm thinking about it, I'm hesitant to say that there is such a thing as a male voice or a female voice, excepting that there is something fairly common-sensical about being able to make some sort of distinction, even if many people fall in some indeterminate region.

(Of course, language and voice have often been studied as markers of difference -- gendered, racialized, etc. I'm reading some articles by Jack Kerkering of Trinity University in which he examines claims to the racial qualities of poetic language by writers such as Seamus Heaney and Toni Morrison. In terms of gender, there have been many scholars who have devoted themselves to researching and thinking about how language -- its presentation, production, performance, etc. -- marks gender distinctions. I'm thinking of people like Deborah Tannen, Robin Lakoff, and Kira Hall whose work goes beyond gendered differences in language into gendered differences in discourse, in the discursive production of self.)

The same indeterminacy could be said of looks, I suppose. I'm no stranger to this: some days, walking around in public, I've been called "miss," even as my interlocutors squinted at my face more carefully to figure out whether they had misascribed my gender after making an initial assay.

      >> 6:18 PM

Just a thought. I don't know if it's the chicken or the egg, but one thing that's unnerving me now is this huge dissatisfaction with how I look. With summer approaching and the weather warming up (too much at times), all the young college guys are running around in shorts and t-shirts (or shirtless). Yum, yum, yes. But also very depressing because so many of these guys look like the people you see on TV, in the movies, in magazines, and elsewhere in popular culture. That is, they are young, muscled (they all work out in the gym, I swear -- I actually hear a lot of students out on campus talking about weight training classes, too), and either white or black. And I can't help but feel that it's not so much the fitness/muscle aspects of looks, but the racial aspects of it all. Why do I feel particularly unpretty, unsexy, unhandsome? (And don't even get me started on being "cute.") This is when I miss California/the San Francisco Bay Area or New York City a lot. As much as I try to believe that not being around a lot of other people who look like me is okay, I think it really reinforces my fears that I am a reject, [the ugly duckling], so to speak. Of course the ugly duckling story is particularly unnerving as a comparison for me because it would suggest that I am a swan rather than a duck, even if the moral of that story is that an external, third-party perspective of humans sees swans as more beautiful than ducks and that even the most beautiful creature is ugly when judged by the inappropriate standard. Still, I don't know how to deal with these feelings that I would just be happier if I looked like those people out there. Sad. Never really thought I felt this way, but I do.

      >> 1:19 PM

Yay for [promised returns]!

Still slightly surly. I don't think it's lack of sleep, though I just woke up from a two-and-a-half hour nap. I want to go hang out at a cafe somewhere and read (maybe the newly relocated [Mad Hatter's Bake Shop and Cafe]), even though I really should buckle down and do work in my apartment where I've stocked the kitchen plentifully with snacks, juices, and tea. But I want coffee. And to be elsewhere. I want to wander around aimlessly on some busy city streets (hmm... I guess I could drive five or six hours to DC, walk around, and then come back....).

I think I'll head out, get some coffee, and read a new book unrelated to any coursework I'm doing now....

      >> 12:58 PM

Oy. Last day of class. Yay. No more teaching until August.

I was feeling particularly anti-social last night. Not really sure why. Just didn't want to have to talk, mostly. As if the act of speaking was a herculean task best avoided. I was perhaps a bit brusk on the phone as a result when people called me last night. (Go figure, people only call when I'm not in the mood to talk.)

I need mood-markers for my blog. Little icons that say how I feel, like emoticons, only with labels like "angry," "confused," or "grumpy." I think of them as a [livejournal] thing. Some people complain that the emoticons there are stupid, silly, unhelpful. But in reading some livejournals, it's been fun to correlate the entries to the icons. Sometimes, the relationship is fairly simple. The entry will say, "I'm depressed," and the icon will be of a depressed thing. Sometimes, the icon will add meaning to a related event, such as with the "confused" label, indicating the writer was confused by the recorded event. What's even more interesting is how the icon can sometimes change the meaning of the entry, invert it, make it ironic, etc.

      >> 8:35 AM


      >> 5:03 AM