Wednesday, November 27, 2002

after dire warnings from everyone and their mother about snow, today burst on the scene as fresh and pristine as a newly cleaned toilet bowl. my brother drove down from cornell yesterday and slept over with the intent of leaving early-ish this morning. while he was forcing his way southward, ben and i wandered into the city to see far from heaven, the new todd "velvet goldmine" haynes flick. initially i was suspicious: i've seen parts of the original douglas sirk melodrama and in no way could i conceive of anyone wanting to remake it. but you have to give him credit. haynes maintained a smooth, authentic 50s tone without descending into parody, and he simultaneously updated just enough of the details to make the story believable to viewers now.

on the way home, ben and i discussed the inter-racial relationship around which the story revolves. that julianne moore's character's love interest is not just a gardener but a black man is one of haynes' twists. their interaction bears racial -- as well as class -- baggage. setting up the black man as a counter to moore's gay husband has the potential to enforce the stereotype of "savage" virility, but the interaction they have remains so chaste that that fear dissipates. they never even kiss. that makes the drama more wrenching somehow: not only is it impossible for two adults, one white and one of color, to have a romantic attachment, it's even impossible for them to be friends. at least in the 50s.
and that's the second question. placing this story in the 50s is safe. attitudes then are easily catelogued, and you can portray the drama and hypocricy of them without having to exaggerate. what about nowadays? in some parts of the US, the social stigma remains nearly as intense as it was half a century ago; in others, it remains, just in subtler form. a film that attempted to address that issue would really be something to see.

still, i enjoyed far from heaven -- more than velvet goldmine, i think. marc, who my brother kindly let hitch a ride to dc today, informed me that sir haynes is actually good friends with one of my professors, the one i'm taking a film seminar with next semster in fact. it is possible he is the one who will be called in to evaluate my honors project and honors standing at the end of next year. that would be the most frightening two hours of my life.

happy turkey or vegan equivalent, folks. wish my dog luck, she's back in the hospital. be well.

Monday, November 25, 2002

my moods are predictable. i lose a scrabble game and get a nasty review at trigger street: i droop. i win a scrabble game and get accepted into the poetry workshop: i perk up. now i've lost another scrabble game, but i'm still in the poetry workshop (although it may or may not be good. plus the last guy to hate my screenplay listed con air and tombstone among his favorite movies.) words, words, words.

Sunday, November 24, 2002

i cleaned like a maniac today in preparation for tonite's comotion meeting. exposed the top of my desk to the air for the first time since day 1; exposed my carpet; filed things away; just generally tidied up, in conjunction w/ brigid, and while ben read shakespeare in the window seat. the results are quite satisfactory -- my mother would be proud. if only i liked the cleanliness enough to maintain it.

my friends convened at harvard for the vs. yale football game, and more specifically to visit ilana in her new nest and see the new bunny she's dragged in to keep her company during the cold winter months (ahh mixed metaphors). after some deliberation i decided to hang out here, attend the formal saturday nite and just relax. it worked out well. a group of us set out for goodwill in preparation for the dance. i didn't find a pretty but did happen upon a perfect hardback copy of the corrections for a dollar. then at the end of our 3 hour spree, someone found me a blue feels-like-silk kimono robe. someone else suggested i wear it to the formal and i was tempted; in the end decided against it.

then, at the formal, couples galore! stefanie, with an improvised outfit that looked straight out of chicago, and her elizabeth, in a suit. both looked fantastic. sarah c., the latest loveless girl to turn her fate around, a vision in aqua, especially with her new bunny as an accessory. ross in a hilarious ivory suit, complete with cowboy hat and bolo tie. for once i got to be in a couple on the dance floor too, as ben wasn't djing, but we spent more time in the casino set up in the back room. i figured out a decent strategy for roulette but was too timid to make substantial amounts of money. of course when i gathered courage my luck ran out.
speaking of luck, i need some to get through this final stretch. so much due, so much not done. tomorrow they post the list of who made it into the poetry workshop. i wasn't worried about this until someone reminded me. i think i need to work myself into the "it doesn't matter" mindset, which is of course easier said than done.

Friday, November 22, 2002

i have this theory that college oversensitizes us to such a degree that we will not be able to function in the real world. reemerging into a space where, for instance, people don't recognize either the validity of the judgement "heteronormative" or the damned word itself, will be a jolt. but that said, i found this article laughably offensive. tyra banks should shed 15 - 20 pounds? models should be seen and not heard -- "and for supermodels, silence should be mandatory"? and the ending -- where the author quotes the fiancee's admission that she likes to talk and then advises the bachelor, "run"? my god! that's not hypersensitivity, is it? people out there find that ridiculous too, right?

at least we have solidarity in our indignation here. at this point the phoenix exists entirely to make people angry and give them something to bitch about (here's my review, btw). but that's not so bad. it creates a sense of community. yes, sometimes it seems like it's an aggrieved, self-righteous one, but we also learn together too.

hmm. i was starving but located a squirreled-away banana. howzaboutthat. i also happened upon a fortune cookie whose fortune reads, "you will turn the scraps of misfortune into a beautiful quilt." to what that refers, i couldn't tell you: the fact that drama board has decided we must audition for an ideal husband next semester instead of this? my life of late otherwise hasn't been too misfortunate -- indeed i'm virtually "ms. fortunate". after a harsh start, november eased up on me, and i'm grateful. so long as it stays that way.

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

in about five minutes, tim wise is going to start speaking. as you can tell from my comfortable, trix-are-for-kids t-shirt wearing position here at the computer, i'm not going. it's a shame: he's an anti-racist activist and i, like everyone, need some good anti-racist instruction. but he's not talking about anti-racism, he's talking about anti-zionism. there are two positions on this campus on the israel question, just like there were 100 years ago when people started raising it. there's zionist -- right wing, and then there's anti-zionist -- the left. except "zionist" means "im tirzu," in english, "if you desire it," and the group is vocally in favor of a two-state soltuion. "anti-zionist" means "jato," technically "jews against the occupation," who're also in favor of a two-state solution.

you wouldn't think there could be such an abyss between two groups who would be happy with the same outcome. yet there it is, an abyss large enough to comfortably fit every individual, pundit and college student, who's ever been moved to voice an opinion on the subject.
i keep my distance. in betweens like i are meta-marginalized. with no place on either side, we're shifted upwards to merely observe and be ignored. and, in my case, to bitch about it online.

my excellent excuse for not going to hear mr. wise was my film class showing of star wars. having decided, however, that i'm not in the right mindset for the Force, i returned to my room to write about my underwear. it's new, y'see, and black. it's boxer briefs. i've never felt so securely packaged. wearing them i'm constantly reminded of the first time i came in contact with black boxer briefs. when i was fifteen i went to miami to visit my camp friend, and idol, emile. she was tall and thin and blonde, and the cute little CK underwear looked like it was made for her. on me it looks like what's beneath has been edited out, like the underwear should read "CENSORED" in chalky white letters. ever since i met emile i wanted to be more like her; maybe this is just another step along the way.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

oh, i imagine, the many many things i could be doing. working on any of the four major projects/papers i have due in the coming weeks. going to the gym maybe -- i hear people do that. cleaning my room, clearing off my desk (it's five layers deep), hanging up sweaters ... yawn. no, no, it's november 19, which is a different anniversary of sorts, and in honor of today i'm going to focus not on what i'm not (i.e., industrious, atheletic, tidy, organized) and instead dwell on what i am ( ... well, at the very least, the kind of person who remembers bizarre anniversaries).

brigid: [knocks] are you naked?
ester: oh, hang on. [opens door] no, sorry. i was just getting dressed. in fact i'm wearing two sets of clothing.
brigid: hmm, too bad. well, i think i'll go shower.
ester: copycat.
brigid: okay, i'll never shower again. that'll show you i don't want to be like you. ... wait a minute: gloria steinem showers! i'm so torn ...

i heart my living arrangement. i am trying very hard not to dwell on the possible depression that will set in when at least two, and possibly three, of my closest friends leave this immediate vicinity. as the move will quite possibly make two, if not three, of them sublimely happy, it is quite selfish of me to think in these terms -- and worse, to mention it to them.

quick! think of something else. my desk! presently boasts, just in front of me, the following items: a small stuffed one-eyed duck; an empty water bottle; a box of floss; a plastic spoon; an unused coffee cup top; a copy of fires in the mirror; a tape dispenser; catie curtis's truth from lies; two bandana; and an orange and black toy gun-like object that i think you're supposed to use on potatoes. and that's just strata I.

Sunday, November 17, 2002

i know i've pledged to be apolitical, but this is too adorably ridiculous to ignore. (WILPF, take notes.) {via east/west}
weekends are such interesting things. they're there simultaneously to allow enjoy yourself and to sleep, except those two things are often at odds and you end up feeling guilty choosing one over the other EVEN IF by SLEEPING you manage to ENJOY YOURSELF.
yes. weekends are strange. this weekend i've spent more time than usual with the ben, appropriately tho accidentally because today is our one-year-and-three-quarters-of-what. we sat next to each other at harry potter 2: actually better than you expect friday and othello: not shakespeare's finest last night w/ ben's english class. i saw a terrific production of othello: inverted a couple years ago at the shakespeare theater in dc. patrick stewart played the tortured moor as the only white man in a black cast. that blew me away. this one just ... well, you know. it was ordinary.

hp2, while ordinary in some respects -- still-too long; still-directed by christopher columbus (motto:"who needs instincts when you can mimic steven spielberg"); and still-scored by john williams (motto: "here, let me hit you over the head. now cry!") -- is better than the first one and largely enjoyable. in parts it's scary, in parts it's clever, and it keeps you absorbed. sadly it leaves out my favorite line from the book: "never trust anything that thinks for itself if you can't see where it keeps its brain." but it does make the character of lockhart much more appealing than the book does. thanks, branagh.

so one-year-and-three-quarters ... 21 months ... feels like a rather substantial time to spend with one person. well, i'm impressed. on one hand, we're both stubborn and opinionated, we both like to be right, and in our respective ways, we both want to be known. on the other, we're music v. movies, djing v. dancing, dancing v. watching, all lines v. all curves, serious v. sarcastic, widespread v. tightknit, self-possessed v. self-conscious, masculinity issues v. femininity issues, ego v. ego. somehow, through copenhagen, swarthmore, philly, new york, san francisco, dc, and the never never land of the world wide web, we've managed to make this work.

Friday, November 15, 2002

i am coping with this: "Convenient and tidy but a writer with potential. I may be wrong, but I would wager that the writer is either a teenager or a college student, or both. It reads like it was written by someone who is young and lacks the life experience to add the depth and richness her story and characters deserve for this kind of plot. Millie's redundant cheerful food-making for the girls shows a two-dimensional appreciation for what parents are and do; the other parents - Dale and Nora - are treated two-dimensionally also, as if written by a person who is neither a parent or full-grown adult. Only more life experience can cure these ills. It's a one goal story - essentially, "get to the part where she comes to her parents," but it begs for more creative twists and deeper layers than that. If I am wrong about the writer's age, then her writing is immature and she simply needs to write more. But she has potential! The dialog is quite good - not earth-shattering, but natural and funny in spots. The emotional interaction is fairly relaistic. But the author's understanding and portrayal of Christians and Christian beliefs is cliche and lacks depth or thoughtfulness. Throw-away tags like "fundamentalist" and "Republicans" and "Seventh Heaven" references says more about the author's bias and agenda than about a thoughtful understanding of her characters and conflicting views that conflict with the gay/bi/rainbow views. This movie would have a very limited audience because the story is just two insular and convenient, too "small" and self-promoting - not universal and mature enough for a broad audience." thanks to the folks at trigger street.

my grandparents heard about this other screenwriting thing and passed the tip to my mother who passed it to me. unlike greenlight, you don't need to pay anything -- you commit to reading 2 scripts. once you've done that, you get to submit your own. your reviews are posted as are other contestant's reviews of yours. it's a little stressful, if instructive (and i'm trying hard to focus on the instructive part).

the other review thus far: "A book maybe...? Certainly not a feature film -- indie or studio. The writing is good and there are some really nice lines but that's about it. It's one long conversation. Nothing happens, and that's not good considering the medium. The author has something to say but needs to be a bit more compelling about how it's said. Yes, I'm a guy, but you gotta give me something I can sink my teeth into for for 8 bucks a ticket."

on a scale of "shrugg-off-able" to "crushing," these register around "doubt-inducing." maybe i've jumped the gun on this whole screenwriting thing. or maybe i shouldn't let the opinions of someone whose bio reads "I write screenplays. I eat pizza. I drink beer. And I miss Dean Martin." shake me to the core.

Thursday, November 14, 2002

i understand how the choice of this woman to stand for the dems in the house could be controversial, but it just makes me happy. very little exists on the political horizon, just a gloating pink mass of republicans.

but enough about politics -- that's my brother's domain this year. i've sworn off it except for a bare-minimum, subsistence-level to keep me generally informed. have i mentioned i've been happy? maybe i've been scared to. hey, it's been a week or so even at this point. much of the happiness stems, of all things, from confrontation. sometimes you just have to step up and talk to the people who are upsetting you. sometimes that actually works.

not everything's been golden. last night for our film class's showing we saw jaws, which thoroughly freaked me out. i am not meant to see movies like that. i take them much too seriously. (and who really needs to see a great white methodically chewing his way upwards through a screaming man who finally expires with a last gasp of blood? not to mention the film's first victim, the naked woman who dies after five minutes of orgasmic writhing?) now harry potter 2: equally disappointing on friday, now that i can handle. one hopes.

my review of 8 mile. feel free to disagree, but please note that the onion's review, written AFTER mine, supports me 110%. funny always = right.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

m: we listened to this kenny g. song at my observation today
b: tell stefanie! he's like her cousin
m: i thought he was black
b: [breaks a rib laughing] he's whiter than white
m: but he plays saxophone
b: so does bill clinton
m: exactly!

[moments later, as b. exhibits a picture]
b: he's got awful hair.
m: brigid, that is culturally insensitive

[later, with b.'s boyfriend]
k: you know who warren g. is, ester?
m: warren g. harding?
k: right. our black president.

Monday, November 11, 2002

i should be writing my movie review IF NOT starting on all that homework i need to get done this week. but having just watched five episodes of season II sex and the city -- the fetish one, the pastry chef one, the jon bon jovi one ... why do i have friends who encourage me in these fixations? -- i'm more in the mood to post. again. besides, it's shira's birthday. when i'm 77, sedate in my vibrating sharper image rocking chair, i will retain a fuzzy recollection that shira was born on 11/11. shira, my most neurotic friend, and one of the people in my past who most shaped my personality.
she introduced me to the girls who became indispensible friends. but she also encouraged me to sing at the top of my voice, think i was pretty, try out for shows, not take rejection to heart, and write. while the other kids we knew in sixth grade were busy being sixth graders, shira thought of herself as perennially thirty. then, in seventh grade, while the other kids started playing around with relationships, she and i contented ourselves being obsessed with each other. we bickered, we compromised, we played basketball and walked an invisible dog, just like a couple. our parents even hated each other.

then, just like that, it ended. she fell in love with a guy who could do everything for her that i could and be someone whose fingers she could suck in public. i was devastated. she broke my heart as much as any stupid middle skool boy could have, and besides, i didn't have a stupid middle skool boy to distract me. that was when i got bitter about love. of course, my bitterness was compounded when the next best friend i had did the exact same thing, only with a boy that we both had a crush on.

it worked out all right. i developed a healthy thin-layer of cynicism, and she ended up changing skools -- cuz by the time she looked up from her consuming relationship shira realized she hadn't just lost me but everyone. in fact, we all learned something from shira: as kahlil gibran advises, we have relationships now with spaces in our togetherness. she goes to columbia now and is dating (i hear) some guy who's attending penn law in the fall.
Full of controversy until I retire my jersey, till the fire inside dies and expires at thirty -- eminem
i saw his movie yesterday in philly, and by "his" i mean nominally curtis "L.A. Confidential; Wonder Boys" hanson's: 8 Mile. for the first time i understood his appeal. it's not just that he's hot, in that pouting, Raphael-cherub, boiling-beneath-the-surface way; or that he's talented (he wrote the raps and they're pretty impressive). he's compelling, like james dean is compelling, because like ol' jd, you half expect him to explode while you're watching. he seems to expect no less of himself.
the film reminded me a lot of saturday night fever -- the working-class kid who's set just a little apart from his friends, who has a special talent that's going to boost him seriously above them and the rest of his violent world any day now. snf made travolta a star; this starts with one pre-assembled. and the fact that 8 mile may be a glorified version of the adolescence of a particularly angsty homophobic misogynist makes this even more of a draw. people like me, who have never listened to hip hop in their lives, are streaming into these theater to see whether their and the media's judgements of eminem are justified, rationalized, or dismissed.

political baggage aside, 8 mile is a good film. it's well-directed, well-scripted, self-aware, gritty and grim. it elicits a serious respect for its central medium, not just as performed by our generation's elvis, and some for our generation's elvis, too. if nothing else, he can rhyme and he can perform.

on an entirely different note, co|motion met our girls yesterday for the last time until january. i went straight from quilt-making with them (each square a representation or homage to an admired woman) to presenting, with sarah, our proposed production of an ideal husband to the drama board. it's possible that she and i will be putting on the main stage production of the spring. our actors will need to insult each other wittily and confidently too. i guess that's a respected skill that never goes out of style.

Saturday, November 09, 2002

after one final swandive yesterday, my emotions seem to have leveled out. a week of ups-and-downs isn't too awful, especially when you consider that this is apparently a seasonal pattern of mine. i celebrated my rediscovered chillness by watching an inordinate number of SATC episodes and the always-wonderful empire records, and then drinking wine and playing Taboo with an eclectic group of people in kross's room.
this has been the strangest season for bunnying. who would expect all that bleakness to be conducive to all this love?

Thursday, November 07, 2002

i can't stand either of these men and they're both coming to campus. bizarrely and tiresomely, both are jewish and both of the students quoted as bringing them -- one ultra-left the other ultra-right -- are jewish too, so the entire article centers around jewish infighting.
we're not the only minority group clawing each others' eyes out via the phoenix either. last week's "coming out issue," including an interview with a friend of mine, sparked a furious response among people in his community. even people i thought he was friends with hit the high-ground running. i've never even heard the word "integrationist" before: what does it even mean and why is it so bad? so what if some queer folks are also mainstream in other respects? i understand that for some, not making waves would be a denial of identity. but why should that be mandated for everyone?
moreover, i think, someone's vision of "a straight couple and a queer couple sharing a white picket fence" isn't meant to be taken literally. it's a reference to MLK's oft-quoted speech about little black children and little white children; it's also a tongue-in-cheek reference to the "american dream". what it means is that someone visualizes a state of normalcy between people of different orientations. i don't think the person who voices that vision deserves being called "racist, classist, transphobic, and ablist, to name a few." some people in the world are meant to be radicals, "anti-integrationists" and whatever other labels they choose. but to vilify others who don't make that choice, especially in such a public space -- and especially when you know from experience that the person in question is very much none of the above -- , seems short-sighted, sanctimonious, and cruel.

so much drama on campus. tonite's also the showing of bamboozled, advertised widely as the antidote to the dangerously naive action perpertrated by billy craig. he's become the fall guy for the flaws in everyone's racial consciousness. if i knew him personally, at this point i might feel sorry for him too. maybe i'm just growing conservative and soft in my old age.

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

i know it's arbitrary and abstract, fleeting and meaningless; that its importance is time-specific and by the time i'm 70 i'll have forgotten 70 times over; that it pales seriously in comparison to the republicans taking over the senate; that its ability to determine my intelligence, let alone my destiny, is dubious -- but it still feels so damn good to get an A.

also, to shake us out of our melancholy, sarah c. and i have decided to put on a production of an ideal husband. i'll direct, she'll stage manage, we'll co-produce. together we'll draw wit like blood from the turnip that is a swarthmore winter.

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

from my mother's email, re: my previous entry:
"November can be difficult. Peek around corners until you find a prompt. Alternatively, a good movie, a good haircut, a pretty walk through the fall
leaves (if you're warmly dressed) or just a good cry can be very cleansing. I hope things pick up soon, tho. You're young and beautiful and healthy and
the world is your oyster, even if you don't feel that way at the moment. :) Love. Mom."

and from an old friend's:
"oh honey,
1. stop being ross with the quotes."
i wish i weren't so damn sad. it seems ridiculous: this is still the best semester i've had so far, even if my interest in my classes is waning. i love living where i do, among people. something's always happening -- granted, often behind a closed door and not something you want to walk in on, but it's college: it's wonderful. it's just sadly also november, when it really hits home that it won't be warm again for six months; that you can't frolic so you should probably work though you don't want to, you slacker; that, aside from holidays, there isn't much to look forward to. i would do something spectacular if i could only think of what, and if everyone around me weren't as mopey as i am. (or lovestruck, but if you're mopey, that can be worse.)

happy birthday to my brother who turned 22 in new orleans. where better? i hear the weather's lovely there during the winter. maybe i should pack everything and go. who needs a Watson to see the world?

everybody wants a little sweetness, and nothing wrong, nothing wrong, nothing wrong ...

Sunday, November 03, 2002

when did i get so competitive? rockstar matt rubin made a face at me at sharples today: "you didn't go somewhere you would have otherwise gone cuz you were afraid your ass might have been grabbed?" sadly it's true. for the same reason i skipped two classes over the course of the week, spent a ridiculous number of evenings in my dorm and the bulk of two consecutive days in the city. not that i didn't have fun both times. yesterday stef-eliz and i met up w/ ben and ran into brian, my favorite sophomo, and we hung out at millenium queer coffee, shopped buffalo exchange, ate vegan pizza and bantered. a super nice swat van driver took us home, chatting cheerfully the whole time about his nuclear family and how he and his wife got together in high skool and have stayed in swarthmore their entire lives and spend their free time together. "it's almost like we're best friends, not husband and wife."

then, as we deboarded, a figure draped in scarves threw herself at me, grabbed my ass, and then chased down elizabeth and after a much more extended struggle killed her too. that was it. total anticlimax -- i didn't even get those fightin' endorphins to soothe me. instead ben took me to his art building and sketched my feet. i didn't want to get up this morning and have to face a day without the distraction of competition but he made me.

darling liz offers comfort:
Lizplus: i think of it this way, you have to be rejected 42 times before you can win
ishtar42: really?
Lizplus: that is what im going for
ishtar42: huh.
Lizplus: yeah i think so
ishtar42: interesting
Lizplus: i mean if you won right off the bat then you wouldnt appreciate it was much
ishtar42: maybe not
Lizplus: so i dont get upset when i get rejected i just think of it as getting closer to my quota

wisdom. meanwhile i think i'll get some videos from the library i no longer have to be scared to walk to and wallow.
all i want to do is sing the saddest song, and if you would sing along, i will be happy ...

Saturday, November 02, 2002

on campus is scary. i escaped yesterday into the city for bowling for columbine and lovely msbecca. we filled our stomachs with indian food, then carried them over to cosi and essentially paid for warmth. once i made it back to my room, i didn't leave again, opting instead for hanging with eliz-and-stef, in matching pastel pjs. the ASSmaster emailed all of us to declare the five finalists, of which eliz and i are two. but now the rules are different. now dorms are no longer safe spaces. lock that door!

darling kross, in apology for setting me up to be killed, made me a construction-paper cd carrying case with burned copies of belle&sebastian, billy bragg, beth orton, eliott smith, and the hedwig soundtrack. it will stand even if nothing else good comes out of this crazy game.