Thursday, January 29, 2004

little neurotic babies!

holy shit: the most annoying comic character ever may be getting hitched. does that mean we need to worry about potential badly-drawn offspring?

i hate it when things that are supposed to be empowering -- i.e., "cathy," the first widely published comic strip to be written by a working woman about a working woman; or, say, maureen dowd -- are actually smug, snide, or irritating.

last night i meant to watch city of god, which was being shown with moderate legality on campus, but after sitting through the entirety of d.w. griffith's intolerance, i simply couldn't handle it. my knees cried, Not three MORE hours of being bent and stationary! my hands cried, Not three MORE hours without doodling! my eyes -- well, they just cried, and yours would too, because intolerance is an epic of epic proportions, and epics are bad enough when they have sound, color, and coherent plots.

certainly, it's better than birth of a nation, the other epic for which griffiths is known. this one doesn't have scheming mulattos and a noble ku klux klan. it does however continue with the theme of very pale victimized childlike women and the terrible tragedies that befall them.
i don't want to sell d.w. short. he creates a pretty amazing replica of ancient babylon and the battle scenes are direct ancestors of those of lotr. heads succeed in rolling rather believably. i'm just not a fan of his moral messages and three hours of anything can be hard to take.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004


pfffff. what does new hampshire know? they didn't pick clinton way-back-when. maybe they have a thing against arkansasians (wow that word looks weird spelled out) that explains their not voting for my boy clark.
all i can say is, i hope the only viable candidate doesn't drop out of this race.

on a different political note, i am shocked, SHOCKED, that cbs would dare to deny airtime to an anti-bush ad while allowing a pro-bush one. cbs should not be deciding what is "too controversial" for the american viewing public during the superbowl. several things have outraged me over the past several years of bush administration secrets and lies, but only the valerie plame leak has gotten to me as much as this.

click on the banner to find out the details and, if you're so inclined, to express your outrage in email form.

Monday, January 26, 2004

honeypie, honeypie

i can't believe i forgot the friggin golden globes this year. and they went exactly how i would have wanted them to! LOTR won best drama, lost in translation won best comedy and best screenplay. bill murray won, as did meryl streep, al pacino, and jeffrey wright for angels in america. and i was CLUELESS.

going away for the weekend, to ben's father's 50th birthday in brighton beach, must have disoriented me. it was indeed a disorienting experience: six hours in a russian restaurant that aspired to be the moulin rouge and succeeded only in being, if possible, more postmodern. i'm not even using jargon for jargon's sake. the floor show was not only the best floor show this side of rocky horror; it was also the most amazing explication of postmodernism i've ever seen. pastiche/high art + low art IS the mix of opera, ballet, and acrobatics with russian rockettes, stripper-like women in cages, and pounding flourescent techno. nothing in the floor show made any sense or correllated in any way with that came before or after, but that seemed to be the point.
it was all surface, fishnet-stockinged high-heeled surface, and the russians ate it up, along with the six thousand steaming plates of lamb that kept arriving to each table.

i was almost too busy goggling at the fishnets and heels to eat even the veggie-friendly salad appetizers. in my wool pants, button-down shirt, and sweater, i felt and looked like a nun.

i am, however, glad i went. it was definitely an experience. i took lots of pictures, though not one of the many clusters of fishnetted, high-heeled girls smoking under the "thank you for not smoking" signs (the restaurant would do marginally better with signs that read, "thank you for not ashing on the carpet") or the last stripper-like woman who danced in the cage, wearing a sparkly shirt and nothing else.

Friday, January 23, 2004

then go to new york

i'm off for the first of my indeterminate number of weekends away from swarthmore. this one is in honor of ben's father's birthday. being as he's russian and everything, a whole rowdy group is descending on an authentic russian restaurant in an authentic russian part of brooklyn. i mean, you think 'russian,' you think 'vodka' -- and you think 'vodka,' you think 'fun,' right?

it's too cold to do anything outside. or maybe it's too cold to do anything that doesn't involve vodka.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

first fight. then fiddle.

i have my schedule settled. my potential classes, in order of relative skate-through-able-ness to lip-biting hair-tearing difficulty, are:

contemporary women's poetry
vampires in film, literature, and music
video production workshop
film theory (seminar, but only one credit)

on wednesday, when i had both video production and film theory, my profs each screened three experimental films. the grand total of six experimental films wiped me out.
(i know the word "experimental" is vague; essentially, it means NO DIALOGUE, NO STORY and NO ENDING, LET ALONE A HAPPY ONE.)
however, in the future it seems as though the video production class will focus on teaching us how to use a camera and then trying us by fire, and the film theory class will focus on, well, theory, making this past wednesday's experience a unique one.

the video production class is exciting because i will actually be learning a skill. this is a first for me at swarthmore. i've never even held a mini-dvd camera and by the end of the semester i will have made three short films. not as practical, maybe, as learning to change a tire or file taxes, but one has to start somewhere.

and vampires! who wouldn't be thrilled to learn about vampires! especially from a cute/dorky guy who seems simultaneously animated by the material and determined not to take it, or himself, too seriously.

thanks to everyone who passed on condolences re: gephardt, whether by email, in person, or shouting them across the cafeteria. the party went off well anyway. people rallied: they said "at least it wasn't dean" and poured themselves another glass of wine.
on that note, i have a bet going about whether the nomination will go to kerry or clark. i say clark. feel free to add your opinion and maybe i'll defend mine.

Monday, January 19, 2004

party prep

countdown to the caucus. this is serious business. if you don't believe it, come to our victory party this evening: where there's lamb, there's serious business.

it's always nerve-wracking to me to realize i don't know something that 24 hours from now i will know. even though i couldn't possibly know what i don't yet know, it irritates me that my future-self will know something my present-self doesn't. for instance, will i get into grad skool? i'd really they let me know before they let me know, you know?

speaking of rubbish, someone should buy the rights to my subconscious mind. not only do i come up with ridiculously creative horror scenarios, i dream some crazy shit. last night i dreamt i was carrying a wicker ring. once i dropped it i couldn't find it again until i had the brilliant idea to turn off everything in the world that wasn't wicker.
instantly, i found the ring. i turned the world back to normal again but i'd changed something irrevokably. as the pompous and irritated authority figure informed me, i'd "fucked with impossibility!" now EVERYTHING was possible -- which meant, of course, everything was chaos.

please hope gep pulls through tonite. there are excellent political reasons but more importantly, if he does, it will make my family very happy.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

things we said today

anxiety dreams the past few nights. in them, i throw books at people's heads, curl into a ball on the floor and sob. people turn away from me. i wake up sorethroated and thirsty.

it must be related to returning to college. i'm about to return to college for the last time. well, actually, i suppose there's returning from spring break too. perhaps i should instruct my subconscious not to be so melodramatic.

still, over and over again, i find myself telling people it's almost over. cuz it is.

at times like these, i like johnny cash.

Friday, January 16, 2004

"animals laugh at me"

finally, an article on dogville, the latest and most controversial lars van trier movie. this is the one that was called anti-american and for a while couldn't get a distributor. i think it sounds fascinating.

it will be released this winter, i've heard. maybe they'll release it on the same day as the passion of mel gibson, and then all the righties in this country can go into their theaters and the lefties can go into ours. yay!

while browsing the internet, i came across this several-days-old-but-still-active discussion thread on book people vs. movie people. it's written by a fella who uses too many semi-colons, tends to ramble, and who raised my eyebrows by suggesting that the vast majority of novels should just be 50 pages long.
he raises several interesting points about the literary world, which he indicts as being an extention of the academic one. in essence, he says that book people don't have a sense of humor (about books or about themselves) while movie people necessarily do. moreover, movie people, unlike stodgy book people, glory in mixing art and trash and enjoying both.

it does remind me of my very first fiction teacher who drew a vertical line down the middle of the blackboard to segregate "FICTION" from "LITERATURE." when we called out an author, she wrote that author's name down either on one side of the line or the other. as i recall, there was no cross-over and there was no hazy in-betweenness.
that was my first introduction to that kind of thinking and it troubled me.
she did, however, say that it's perfectly okay to love both fiction and literature; it's just important to recognize the difference between the two.

mr. 2blowhards doesn't think so. i once had a long argument where i argued the side of my fiction teacher. really, though, it doesn't bother me overmuch. if i hadtohadto choose, i'd say i'm a movie person by his definition at least since i want to work in movies and not publishing. but i loved books first, including/especially fiction-not-literature: tom robbins, marjorie morningstar, gwtw, rebecca, douglas adams ... and earlier, Choose Your Own Adventures, encyclopedia brown, the babysitters club. i look back on that reading with fondness. in fact, hell!, i just reread a douglas adams book, and that was after i reread two of the harry potterz. man, slumming it.
all better

i was a teeeeny iiiitsy bit depressed today after i got feedback on my short[screenplay] "EXIT" which i'd entered in its first contest. the judge liked it but didn't love it and, naturally, it didn't make the top ten.

short[screenplay]s about sex offenders finding love in purgatory over games of marbles just don't do it for everyone, i guess. however, i did get high marks for originality.

i read the tvwop recap of the apprentice and it was all better. you know, the terrific new reality series where the dumbest-yet-most-attractive mbas in the country compete for the honor of someday working for donald trump. i'd say something snarky but believe me, the recap more than does that for me. hoo boy, i can't remember the last time i laughed that hard.

wait, yes i can. it was earlier this evening when my father recounted his maiden attempt at a group cross-country skiing lesson.

dad: so we get to this mogul --
mom: mogul? MOGUL?
dad: and the teacher says go over the mogul and immediately i fall --
dad: -- breaking the bindings on my skiis. the teacher's really nice about it and she gives me her bindings. so then i try to go over the mogul again and i fall again and break HER bindings --
mom: paul, there was no mogul. you were on flat ground and the teacher just said, "move FORWARD."


dad: well, at the very least, it was a bump.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

two amazing finds

charlize theron in monster. whatever you have heard is in no way exaggerated. it is worth it, honestly, for you to spend $8 and 2 hours of your life, watching one of the most depressing rape-victim serial killer movies you will ever see, because charlize theron is astonishing. she transcends the material. moreover, she makes christina ricci look like an amateur.

it doesn't even feel like acting. you get the sense watching ricci that she's agog not because her lover has become homicidal but because she's in the presence of a hurricane.

the movie gets extra props in my book for its hands-off approach to direction and pacing: nothing fancy or distracting, just straightforward unsentimental storytelling. the voiceover is the one exception to this but first time writer/directors can be forgiven for that.
it also gets props for not making a big deal about the love story which lies at the film's center. neither of the two women has been in a queer relationship before but neither goes through any sort of traumatic coming out. neither agonizes over self-perception. it's refreshing.

of course, the movie is as dark as you would expect from something called "monster." that leads us to the next great find:, a site which catelogues all the opinions that matter and presents them in an approachable way. i've been obsessed with their 2003 awards page since ben pointed me to it. the most honored films of the year are ROTK and lost in translation, my two personal favorites.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

is there a medical term for over-emotional?

besides "female," i mean.

ha HA.

really, i hate television. really. it's canned, predictable, idiotic -- and that's just the reality shows. but i became addicted to bravo's Celebrity Poker Showdown the same way i became addicted to baseball back in october, watching on the edge of my seat, shouting along with the commentators, flushed and giddy.

and this time, unlike in october, i was rooting for the winner.

i've also become (nearly) addicted to reruns of west wing on bravo, making the fledgling network hbo's rival for my most-watched. and hey, i'm a demographic they care about, right? i should treasure this while it lasts, while my opinions hold any cultural weight at all.

contributed to my overarching happiness are my terrific script conference with sam today; the last of my grades posted FINALLY this morning; and sense and sensibility which no number of viewings can or will ever decrease in quality or effect on me. it teaches valuable lessons, such as, Never trust a man who carries shakespeare's sonnets around in his pocket.

Monday, January 12, 2004

the best thing about my new black boots

the looks on people's faces as i swept past them that clearly said, "i'm sorry -- for a second i could have sworn you were carrie ann moss."
still laughing, two hours later

the best line i've ever read in esquire -- and even better in context where it follows hypermacho interviews with jack "if i were an arab-american i'd register myself. some things are more important than civil rights" nicholson and wonder "tough women abandon the feminine and that's too bad" woman --

adam west (you know, Batman): "i hate to disappoint you, but the batmobile only went 33 miles an hour."

for the record, i suppose i should say i used to be a hardcore jack nicholson fan. that was before i knew about the misogyny, the obsession with golf, the business about him being an accessory, and not the pretty kind, to roman polanski's infamous affair. but i admit, my life is just a little bit emptier without him, feminist bashing ("there are 3 times more single women over 40 than single men. that's the women's movement for you. that's chickens coming home to roost") and all.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

just for kicks

you will never believe how many pairs of shoes richer i am now than i was four hours ago. i can barely believe it. o, the times i'd gone out searching, always alone, for that perfect pair of knee high black boots... to no avail. the perfect pair of knee high black boots, i had almost come to realize, was a phantom that existed only on the legs of film professors.

then i remembered the secret: bring your mother with you shopping, and if possible your aunt.

the gates of heaven (montgomery mall) swung wide to the three of us, curly haired ladies in blue jeans and ski jackets. angels (store employees) showered us with shoes. in one place, we got -- and by "we" i mean "i i i" -- not one but TWO pairs of knee high black books for $75 total.

the nordstrom angels, my personal favorites, tossed in a really cute pair of red steve maddens, also cheap, just for kicks.

the next time you see me, consequently, you have to compliment me on my shoes. as i've virtually doubled my collection, you have an excellent likelihood of catching me in a compliment-worthy new pair.

Saturday, January 10, 2004


hollywood has the right idea. never do anything once if twice will make you more money.

unfortunately, after master and commander, i actually thought pirates of the caribbean was a little lackluster. so ... bruckheimer, so overdone. i was also distracted the entire movie, thinking, "who IS that guy? why does he look so goddamn familiar?"

(the answer to that question, as to all others, is "orlando bloom! christ! you call yourself a movie-goer?")

someone seriously needs to do a compare/contrast between m&c and potc. for instance, on the compare side: both titles end with "c." both include a character from the lotr trilogy, only modified so as to be shorter/taller. both have a phenomenally attractive captain named jack.

in pirates' favor, i have to say i find swaggering, eye-liner, a headscarf and a killer brogue more attractive, altogether, than a whole bunch of muscles and the ability to play the violin.
also in pirates' favor, geoffrey rush can give me an apple anytime. hooooooooooboy. makes me want to run out and rent quills.

but when it comes down it, pirates just goes on and on and the script can't sustain it. but when it comes down it, of course, who cares? skeletons! geoffrey rush! johnny depp!

on a completely different note, last night my grandmother told me i should elope and save everyone the trouble. not that i'm planning on getting married -- this came almost out of nowhere. now, my romantic sensibilities have never manifested themselves in a dream of a storybook wedding, but i was still caught a little off-guard.
a few moments later, my grandmother said, Or don't get married at all. soon no one will get married; it will totally out of style. just so long as you meet someone nice.
to that, i could happily say, Okay.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

i know there's a word for this

a couple months ago, my two brothers and three boy cousins were all assembled at my house and they wanted to see a movie. master and commander had just opened and, noting my audience, i suggested we go see it. nuts to that, they responded in one voice. let's see the station agent!

as it turned out, the station agent was a sweet, small film, the kind of that enables critics to use scrabble words like "quirky" and "poignant." my two brothers and three boy cousins, needless to say, were underwhelmed.

movie time rolled around again. master and commander, i suggested again. aw, you just wanna see russell crowe, they said. and to shouts of "yeah, remember how much she liked titanic?" and accompanying hoots of laughter, my two brothers and three boy cousins marched me off to see shattered glass.

in the darkness of the theater while the credits rolled and my two brothers and three boy cousins sat struck dumb by yet another well-acted character exploration with no profanity, sex, or explosions, i leaned over and whispered, "i told you we should have seen master and commander."

yesterday, at long long last, i swashbuckled into the theater by myself, prepared to be entertained. instead i got soaked. master and commander must be the wettest movie since titanic. those poor sailors get smacked around by gleeful waves, sheets of rain, everything but poltergeists flying around emptying buckets on their heads. but my oh my, is it a good movie.

i mean it. russell crowe is the kind of onscreen presence that makes your eyes go wide and your head fill with one expanding thought: "movie star!" he's balanced perfectly by paul bettany who, much more my personal taste, kept me happily distracted as chaucer during the otherwise silly "a knight's tale." lanky + british = mmmm ....
the crew, which includes one of the hobbits, holds up their end of the bargain too, a feat which is assisted by an actually quality script and really assured direction by peter weir ("the truman show").

i was so excited in its aftermath that i started walking home in the balmy 5 degree weather. my father caught sight of me and whisked me away. in the car and back at home, i calmed down -- until my friend ari called and invited me to watch the first half of angels in america at his house and i got all revved up again.

on a more somber note, ari asked me what the highlight of my semester was and i could not think of a thing. there must have been some head-above-the-rest thing this past fall and for the life of me i can't call it to mind.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

twists and turns

so it turned out i was going to new mexico.
then it turned out i wasn't.

no biggie, i can adjust. see? look, i'm adjusting. my father and i might venture out next week instead, which would also be fine. now i just have to cobble together a list of things to keep me occupied at home with all my friends away. yesterday, while classic and very enjoyable, can't be template: i stayed in bed until 5 pm, in my nightgown, re-reading harry potter iv. i stopped only to eat (though, for lunch? i made this sandwich? maple-smoked cheddar, red onion, sliced egg, and raspberry chipotle sauce ... mmmmmm ...)

this was neccessary, of course, because while at swat w/ ben, i re-read the whole of harry potter v. my conclusion is that v was exactly what i wanted to read at the time that i read it, and still good and exciting and all that, but iv is of better consistency and iii is best of all.

on january 19th my mother is hosting a victory party for dick gephardt. not just any party, the official washington dc party -- the candidate will call our house, we'll have a speaker, and tickets will cost. i've been helping her plan. for something like this, i feel, you have to go all out. big gap adds modified to read "GEP" on the walls. blown-up old pictures from dick and primers that blare, "SEE DICK RUN! GO DICK GO!" crepe paper and balloons of course and the kitchiest hors d'oeuvres you can find.
i only regret i will not be here to participate.

Sunday, January 04, 2004

what's better than best?

you wouldn't think that getting a lovely laptop for hannukah could get any better. yet it has. ready? i'm WIFI. !! that means that not only can i be one of them cool people in coffee shops reading porn/, or on planes watching whatever dvd they want intead of mad love for the fourteenth time -- now i get to do all of that without the irritating cordage!

so. exciting.

barely an hour after i got home from my sojourn (vermont -> ny -> swarthmore -> philly -> dc) my little brother was dragging me to best buy. for some reason, he paid for my wifi card, except for $15 which he asked of me. and the cashier frowned at HIM and told him he should be ashamed! considering that my older brother purchased my new cellphone for me, it seems there's evidence to support a claim that i'm the family princess. i guess it evens out in the end, though, since i have to menstruate and earn $.70 for every dollar they earn. (i've never had this discrepancy explained to me, by the way -- what accounts for the gap, besides looks?)

anyway, i had a lovely, really lovely, time in vermont and new york and the philly area. little adam and mark came to stay with ben and me and were ideal guests. we zipped around the mountains, visiting picturesque 200 year old towns, each of which comes equipped with a library. interestingly, we didn't see a single dean sign. perhaps vt is less enchanted with the increasingly god-oriented candidate than the rest of the country.

speaking of his increasing god-orientation, a reporter asked dean at a recent press conference, where he was acting pious, what his favorite book in the new testament was. he replied, "the book of job." later he corrected himself, saying that of course job is part of the old/my/his wife and 2 children's testament.
so what's your favorite new testament book? the reporters asked.
the gospels, he said.
all of them.

now that's politics.