Friday, October 31, 2003

Sunset yesterday.

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?


      >> 6:06 PM

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

      >> 2:04 PM

Main Entry: feck·less
Pronunciation: 'fek-l&s
Function: adjective
Etymology: Scots, from feck effect, majority, from Middle English (Sc)
fek, alteration of Middle English effect
Date: circa 1585
- feck·less·ly adverb
- feck·less·ness noun

* * *

He encouraged us to spend our Saturday afternoons painting; he surrounded us with examples of his own painting. Just to let us be there and to have the ambience of his books, his music, his own supervision and the stillness and dedication that his life meant in that studio was a terrific example. The influence was not so much in terms of technique: how to do a good sky, how to water the paper, how to circle it, how to draw properly and concentrate on it, and all of that. But there were other things apart from the drawing. Mostly, it was the model of the man as a professional artist that was the example. -- excerpt from an interview with [Derek Walcott] in [The Paris Review]

      >> 10:39 AM

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Grr. Argh. I really need this semester to be over. It sucks big time. It's the worst ever. I'm sure I say that about every semester. But I really mean it this time.

One of my students actually said in her speech today, "The children are our future." Argh.

      >> 8:22 AM

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Yay fall back. Boo drizzly weather. If it's gonna rain, it should just rain. This misty stuff just isn't going to cut it. Another downside to wearing glasses -- there's no blocking the mist from the lenses even with an umbrella.

Yesterday was a wash-out. (Is that the correct idiom?) I set out to the mall (makes sign of cross with fingers) in search of a fabulous white button-down shirt. But I couldn't find what I wanted. I decided that I must make my own clothes. That's my new thing. I'm tired of not being able to find clothes that fit me or clothes that are in any way fun and interesting. The smallest size department stores seem to carry in shirts is a 15 -- something I can wear OK, but it's still kinda big on me. I'm actually a size 14-1/2. Plus, men's clothing is just downright boring. I had a friend in college (a guy) who bought women's clothing because they were just so much cooler. Different patterns, types of fabric, colors.... Yes. I am going to learn how to make my own clothes.

      >> 10:07 AM

Saturday, October 25, 2003

Philip Roth's novel The Human Stain is coming out as a [film]. The novel is one of these books that everyone seems to be reading right now. It deals with passing, a practice that remains as crucial to our understandings of race now as it did fifty years ago. For someone of the African American community to pass as white raises many issues. It questions the stability of racial boundaries (culturally defined, biologically defined, phenotypically defined....). But more interestingly, it brings into sharp relief what it means to be a part of a white community at the cost of losing a black community, what the stakes are in investing an identity within particular communities.

While the passing narrative usually focuses on the black-to-white move, highlighting the privileges that accrue to whiteness, there are also passing narratives of other sorts. An article, ["Black Like Me"], gives us an example of a family whose understanding of race and communities encouraged them to pass as African American rather than as a white-identified multiracial family.

I saw on CNN yesterday an interview with Wentworth Miller and Anne Deveare Smith about The Human Stain. Miller plays the young man who decides to pass as white, leaving his family behind, and Smith plays his mother in the movie. Miller the actor mentioned that passing was unacceptable though understandable given the history of racial segregation. As a biracial (black and white) person, he claims that acknowledging fully one's racial background is what is most real, most truthful. I think his claim is indicative of liberal multiculturalism's success in creating an abstract sense of pride and equality in every "culture." But he perhaps misses the importance of passing in opening up the questions of what a culture even is. (This is something that the amazing Smith emphasized in the interview -- both the importance of passing as a practice that questions easy understandings of community and culture as well as the importance of constantly raising questions about our knowledge of things like race.)

Something related, too, is the place of biracial or multiracial persons in our conceptions of racial communities. We all know of them, at least the celebrities -- Tiger Woods, Keanu Reeves, etc. As Miller seems to suggest (above), being biracial or multiracial means celebrating that fact of being of multiple racial and cultural heritage. But it does seem that the tension of being of one race or another is much more powerful than the ability to claim a plurality of racial backgrounds. (I remember when Tiger Woods first become a celebrity, despite his claims of being "cabalasian," many commentators insisted on fixing him as "black.") There's a film I need to see soon -- [charlotte sometimes] -- that has become a hotly-contested site for considering the "authenticity" of biracial Asians (hapas). (It's also interesting that the film, like Better Luck Tomorrow, gets discussed in [film reviews] as one that avoids being "Asian American" in the sense of explaining to a white audience what it means to experience the racialization of Asianness. This whole phenomenon of needing to be "more" than just an "Asian American" film is very interesting -- and possibly troubling -- in itself.) The director of charlotte sometimes has commented on the controversy over his film in an op-ed piece ["Race, Sex, and Charlotte Sometimes"]. I agree with him that this issue of racial/biracial authenticity is profoundly important to a continuing understanding of what "Asian American" even is. But I also see what his critics are saying about the "ability" of some hapas to pass as white (i.e., Keanu Reeves, [Kristin Kreuk], Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park...) as an important way in which to understand the identifications that hapas make or are forced to make. Keanu Reeves, after all, describes himself as just like any other midwestern white boy.

      >> 10:54 AM

SpongeBob SquarePants ice cream! Too bad it's nasty as hell.

      >> 10:50 AM

Friday, October 24, 2003

Night scene, Franklin St.

      >> 6:58 PM

OMG! Musicals/cabaret singer [David Campbell] is going pop!

      >> 5:51 PM

Don't know why I'm feeling the exhibitionist lately.... I had a dream last night in which I found the kind of sweater I want -- with big buttons along one shoulder. You've seen these, right? I associate them with Frenchness, for some reason. I must find one of these sweaters for myself.... A few days ago two of the headlining stories in the NY Times exhibited an intense anxiety about the edges of living. In one story, the U.S. Senate and House have passed a bill banning a particular abortion procedure. How much this ban will change the ability of women to have abortions earlier in pregnancies or at all is still uncertain. In the other story, Jeb Bush ordered the re-insertion of a feeding tube for a woman after the state legislature passed a bill countermanding a court order to remove the tube (in accordance with the husband's wishes). I find it so odd that certain peoples are so adamant about preserving "life" in all forms, but their conception of life is so abstract as to not include a sense of how to make life worth living. Within their demands that fetuses be considered humans, that brain-dead coma patients be tube-fed indefinitely, they find little space for imagining how they could demand a country more attentive to those who die slowly every day -- through poverty, disease (such as AIDS), social stigma, racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. (And yes, I realize I am cruedly lumping all pro-lifers with bigots, not entirely unintentionally...) In class the other day, one of my students asked whether Japanese people could tell Chinese people apart from themselves. She was hesitant to ask it because such a question, she realized, could be construed as racist. We're reading Leo Ching's book Becoming "Japanese" about Japan's colonization of Taiwan in the early twentieth century and the forced acculturation as "Japanese" peoples of the Taiwanese population (both ethnic Chinese and aboriginal). What I told her was that the question wasn't so much whether racial and ethnic differences are visually stable across groups (scientific and anthropological accounts have long discounted fixed differences between races and ethnicities), but rather that it is the cultural creation and mobilization of meaning around those categorical differences that is the focus of Ching's book (and the work of the class). In other words, mapping out visual differences between Japanese and Chinese tells us a lot about the political uses of those categories as well as how it was possible (and desirable) for the Japanese colonialists to "make" the Taiwanese "Japanese." I think I'm going to bring into class next week copies of the article in the December 1941 issue of Life which purported to explain ["How to Tell Japs from the Chinese."] This particular U.S.-based example of telling people apart (ethnically) is about the kinds of power you can hold over people in knowing to what group they belong. Ching's book is particularly interesting in this respect because he focuses on how people make identifications with these various categories, showing not just how such categorizations are not fixed, but also how they produce the very terms of debate around questions of national identity, history, and culture....

      >> 3:03 PM

Rob drew evil frog on me this morning. It washed off easily in the shower.

      >> 10:47 AM

Thursday, October 23, 2003

That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9
Jesus graffiti on the campus library.


      >> 11:21 PM

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Maybe having a cup of coffee at midnight was not the best idea....

My parents have just left California for Taiwan tonight, a return which has always seemed never to be realized. At times, it seemed to be an empty threat, something my parents brought up to emphasize what they saw as our dependency on them for material and financial support. Later on, it seemed more of a ploy to garner attention from us as we moved on and out into our adult lives. It really wasn't until just lately that I've begun to see it as something else. Their decision to make the move seemed quite sudden. Or perhaps these last few months have just been so busy for me that I haven't been much in touch with them. It seems like only a couple of weeks ago, though, that they decided on a date to leave and bought plane tickets. What will it be like to have my parents an ocean away? Will it be much different from having them on the other side of the continent?

If nothing else, it is comforting to know that their return to Taiwan might be just for a little while. My mother is already planning on returning for Christmas -- my birthday and the time of year when us scattered siblings make our way back to our home in California for a reunion. My father is much more adamant about returning to Taiwan in general. He has wanted to spend more time with his mother at least since his father died in the late '80s. He has never really seemed to see our life in the US as a rooted one -- certainly the model of a sojourner. My mother, on the other hand, seems like she would rather stay in California. I think she has truly come to see the US as her home and would feel a strong sense of alienation in Taiwan.

I really don't know what to feel about their move. It's not like I see them more than once a year anyways, nor do I talk to them on the phone that much. I'm sure we'll visit each other at least once a year or so....

      >> 12:57 AM

Friday, October 17, 2003

I kept staring at today's date -- October 17 -- thinking that it was important for some reason. Someone's birthday? A due date for something? But then it just occurred to me -- that was the day of the big earthquake in California in 1989. [The Loma Prieta earthquake], also known as the World Series Quake (it struck during a game between the A's and Giants), was one of those natural disasters that defined the way people thought of themselves and the place where they lived. For a few years after, we would have to write about where we were when "it" struck for school. Traumatic events have a curious power to burn details into your memory. The San Francisco Bay Area was left in quite some shambles. Portions of the upper level of the [Bay Bridge] collapsed. The [Cypress freeway] in Oakland collapsed, leaving an elevated road that led to nowhere for years after. October 17, 1989.

      >> 3:38 PM

Deep Down, Woman Knows She's Watching Entire Trading Spaces Marathon
WINNSBORO, LA—On some level, college professor Lynnda Dale, 48, knows she'll watch this Saturday's entire 12-episode Trading Spaces marathon, Dale almost acknowledged Monday. "Hey, I sorta like that stupid show," said Dale, when she spotted the row of listings for the TLC home-makeover series. "I've got a lot to do, so I'll just watch one episode. But on the off chance that I get sucked in, I can do those lesson plans the next day." Dale said that if she does tune in to the marathon, she won't pay close attention to the show, but will only keep it on for background noise as she does housework.

Patrick pointed out this [Onion] news in brief to me. The article describes my relationship to Trading Spaces, the hypnotic hold it has on me.

Lately I've been wondering, does the critical melancholia theorized by some Asian Americanists aptly describe my situation? Is it useful to think about a social melancholy, a deep-seated inability to reconcile a social loss, especially as a project for recuperating agency and some sort of right-feeling (happiness?)?

      >> 3:12 PM

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

I've been playing this computer version of [Uno] obsessively at work.

The IMAP server system on campus has been down the last day or so. No incoming e-mail = sad me.

      >> 3:53 PM

Monday, October 13, 2003

[Twin Boys Joined at Head Are Separated]:

Dr. Salyer enlisted the neurosurgeons from Children's Hospital. Initially, the group had doubts about whether the twins could be safely separated and whether it was ethical to try.

The plot thickens. Well, not really. So, what are the ethics involved in trying to separate coinjoined twins? Is it a question of whether or not to taken extremely risky operations on people who would otherwise live? Or is it the question of splitting the twins at all?

      >> 8:46 AM

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Hmmm. There's apparently a stage musical version of Ang Lee's film, [The Wedding Banquet]. This is something I have to see, even though I have such conflicting thoughts on the film. It's called a comedy, but I remember when I first saw it, I was certain it was a horror movie. Its strange politics of gay acceptance smacks of a profound need to retrench old-fashioned patriarchal and capitalistic power in the face of a changing world of increasing transnational capital and culture. It does make the film incredibly productive for an analysis of these new world orders, though, and how people are trying to make sense of them by trying to fit them into older models of meaning.

      >> 5:59 PM

[Dogpoet] writes:

Maybe it was sex. I was bothered, constantly, by the idea that I might be missing out. And that may be the price of introversion; the fear of missing out, the inability to live fully in the public sphere. Maybe that’s the price of being the eternal observer, forever watching from edge of the crowd. Surely there are extroverted writers; surely there are some that are the life of the party. But I am not one of them. My place of comfort is on the sidelines. And that weekend both Jay and I preferred to go home early each night, leaving the hotel and all of those possibilities.
Maybe I’m not a true introvert. Maybe introverts aren’t supposed to wonder if they are missing out. Maybe they’re less conflicted, less torn between opposite desires: the desire for new experience, and the desire to be alone. But I am conflicted. And so it was that Folsom Street Fair came along, stirring up within me both desire and dread.

      >> 11:24 AM

Friday, October 10, 2003

[Huntington] writes:

The problem these days is that, to an extent unmatched for such an extended period of time, everything that isn't work-school-law review-home seems somewhat parenthetical.

Totally agree. () () () () () () () () () () () () () () ()

      >> 9:21 PM

Overheard just now by a beleagured colleague returning from a university committee meeting:

A camel is a horse designed by committee.

      >> 3:21 PM

Thursday, October 09, 2003


      >> 2:22 PM

Gotta love word origins.

The familiar foods named for Helen Porter Mitchell are not recognizable as such unless one knows her stage name was Dame Nellie Melba. This famous opera singer of the late 19th and early 20th century, who took her last name from her native city of Melbourne, inspired others to honor her by naming things such as “soaps and sauces, ribbons and ruffles” after her. Perhaps the best known of such honors are [Melba toast] and peach Melba. Auguste Escoffier, the famous chef, is thought to have had a hand in both. Melba toast is said to be derived from the crisp toast that was part of Dame Melba's diet during the year 1897, a year in which she was very ill. The hotel proprietor César Ritz supposedly named it in a conversation with Escoffier. Pêche Melba was said to have been created by Escoffier for an 1892 party honoring the singer at the Savoy Hotel in London, although neither Escoffier nor Melba agreed with this version of events. Peach Melba is first recorded in English in 1905 (in the form Pêches à la Melba) and Melba toast in 1925.

      >> 2:13 PM

[A Librarian Is Making a Big Noise]:

Ms. Pearl is a newly minted author, the executive director of the Washington Center for the Book, a public-radio personality and now the model for a librarian action figure.

I want one of these action figures!!!

      >> 1:47 PM

Wednesday, October 08, 2003


The outdoor toy usually called a seesaw has a number of regional names, New England having the greatest variety in the smallest area. In southeast New England it is called a tilt or a tilting board. Speakers in northeast Massachusetts call it a teedle board; in the Narragansett Bay area the term changes to dandle or dandle board. Teeter or teeterboard is used more generally in the northeast United States, while teeter-totter, probably the most common term after seesaw, is used across the inland northern states and westward to the West Coast. Both seesaw (from the verb saw) and teeter-totter (from teeter, as in to teeter on the edge) demonstrate the linguistic process called reduplication, where a word or syllable is doubled, often with a different vowel. Reduplication is typical of words that indicate repeated activity, such as riding up and down on a seesaw.

One of my students used the word "seesaw" in his news response journal, and somehow I couldn't stop wondering what the origin of the word was....

      >> 4:58 PM

Monday, October 06, 2003


I think the service person has taken apart the copier at work and doesn't know how to put it back together.

Am in coughing mode of sickness now.




Is it wrong that I have a knee-jerk reaction of disgust against old white men who invoke the phrase "my good old friend"? It just smacks of good ol' boys doing what they want, fraternity that excludes others. The Press has just released this book, [Hugh Morton's North Carolina], a photo chronicle of the state by one of its most esteemed residents. As a result, a number of Morton's cronies have been wandering in to the Press to ask about the book and his signing appearances. And guess who gets to talk to them? Though really, Hugh himself was here and seems quite a nice guy. And at least one of his friends seemed really nice, too, though they all inevitably talk about the old days and how great they were and the fact that their friend "Tookie" was the director of the Press way back when etc. etc. etc.

      >> 1:43 PM

Sunday, October 05, 2003

I'm up! And I'm lucid! The last two days have been congested, headachy, miasmal messes. Time to get crackin' on my work....

      >> 8:39 AM

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Whee. Running a fever. Can this weekend get any better?

      >> 10:47 AM

Friday, October 03, 2003

Waking up in the middle of the night with sharp stabbing pains in the throat is not a good thing. Need. Decongestants. Stat.

      >> 1:24 PM

Thursday, October 02, 2003

[I'm a homosexual!]

      >> 8:37 AM

FUCK. I'm coming down with a cold.

      >> 6:48 AM