So, in honor of my current gimpiness, a friend offered to let me park in her driveway (which is across the street from my departmental building and much closer than the student parking lot).
When I went back at the end of the day to retrieve my car, I found that it had been blocked in... by about six other cars.
I gimped up to the porch and rang the doorbell.
When my friend opened the door, I saw why there were so many people crowded into the living room.
She had just bought a Wii.
There was mutual squealing and screaming.
And, as everyone else was taking turns passing around the Wiimote, I was very kindly worked into the rotation.
What is it like to touch a Wii?
Pure fantasticness. The future of gaming is here, my friends.
Now I want one. Like, super really. The only thing that would be cooler than having a Wii would be having a Wii with a WiiHelmet that you could wear over your eyes (remember? like that short-lived "virtual reality" craze in the early-1990s, which Piers Anthony, among others, chronicled in the novel Killobyte?) so it looked like you were actually inside the game, 'cause that's pretty much what it's like.
Why is there no WiiHelmet?
Meh. There is still the Wii, and it is cool.
Thursday, January 31, 2008
So, in honor of my current gimpiness, a friend offered to let me park in her driveway (which is across the street from my departmental building and much closer than the student parking lot).
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
As part of my graduate assistantship, I teach a section of the "Intro to Theatre" course (for non-majors). Today we were learning about improvisation.
During one improvisation, a male student chose to play a character in a stereotypically "flaming gay" manner. The scene went to the point where I felt like it had crossed the line between being tongue-in-cheek and being potentially offensive.
So, after the improvisation was over, I felt like I had to address the idea of stereotype. I began to explain that I wanted us to be a class who didn't perform stereotypes that might be offensive, or make our classmates uncomfortable.
A student raised his hand. "But the book says that the purpose of theatre is to offend people and make them uncomfortable."
Crap. This was true. The opening chapter of their textbook did give the standard "theatre is supposed to shake up the status quo" paragraph.
He wasn't finished. "And Avenue Q is full of stereotypes, and it's got a really stereotypical gay character, and everyone loves it!"
Then another student jumped in with a very serious "Look. The reason we all laughed at this character was because what he was doing was funny. Just because we laugh at stereotypes doesn't mean we believe them."
There was a murmur of agreement with that comment, and so I didn't press any further, told my class that my "Michael Scott moment" was over, and set up the next improvisation exercise.
But something about this still doesn't feel right to me. I mean, I don't think I'll get a chance to address the issue again with my class, but I don't think I handled it as well as I could have. Despite my students' assertions, I don't really think that our Millennial generation has 100% "stopped believing in stereotypes."
Had I been able to think faster on my feet, I should have turned it towards a talk about identity, and how stereotypes affect the way we see various identities. Maybe. But I don't know how to do that without marginalizing identities; the idea that some people are stereotyped and others aren't, etc. I couldn't even say "we shouldn't make fun of gay people because someone in this class might be gay" -- I started to, but shifted gears mid-sentence because that, in itself, sounded like it was making gay seem like less -- or different -- than the rest of us. Not to mention that when you say that, people all start looking around and trying to guess who the "secret gay person" is.
Have other teacher-readers dealt with situations like these before?
So I'm doing better and walking more quickly... and I'm absolutely starving.
I have plenty of dal, thanks to my slow-cooker, but when I was driving home from class today all I could think of was "I want a cheese sandwich..."
A few hours and three cheese sandwiches later, the block of cheese is nearly gone.
Is this 'cause I'm growing bones back together?
Also: 500 bonus points for the first person to name the source of the following quote:
She finished my cheese. I had this brand-new brick of cheese. She devoured it.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Okay. First day back on campus after the foot surgery and I am discovering just how difficult walking around is.
Scientifically, it's because the cast and shoe immobilize my foot, so I can't "push off" from my toes. I can't push off from anything. I take a step with my left, and then literally lift up the immobile right foot and set it down next to the left one.
Ca-CHUNK. You get the idea.
This is also a fairly slow and laborious process. I wasn't expecting it to be quite so laborious. It's kind of exhausting. Which is driving me crazy, since I'm the sort of person who tries to suck it up and keep putting one foot in front of the other (it's what saved me during many of my Indian adventures, for example; the ability to just keep walking despite pain, sun, food poisoning, and repeatedly getting lost).
Side anecdote: today, limping down the street towards my university building, I got offered a ride from a friendly guy in an electrician's truck. I hopped in, and he asked me where I was going. I told him I was going to the theatre building, and then he told me that he was also a MFA graduate... in my very program. I almost asked him to teach me how to become an electrician, instead. ^__^
Anyway. But I've got to figure out some better way to get around, because this method of "walking" isn't working. It takes me ten minutes to shuffle from one end of the building to the other. People have suggested I go on crutches, but I'm not sure that would increase my speed (not to mention that I wouldn't be able to carry things very well).
I'm going to have a meeting with our Alexander Technique instructor later this week, and I hope he'll give me some tips for how to limp more effectively. Just slugging it around today has made my entire body hurt, and I've got to figure out how to get across campus to teach my class tomorrow. Perhaps I'll start walking a half hour early.
Team, I just learned from Holly Corbett's sister Sara that Holly didn't actually write the Page Six article titled "My Year-Long Trip Changed My Life - FOR THE WORSE."
According to Sara, Holly did an interview for Page Six about her trip and spoke positively about her experiences, just like she does on The Lost Girls, and Page Six rewrote the story (including fabricating the headline quote). From Sara:
Unfortunately page six six six decided they wanted something juicer than the truth and the great experiences, and put a really bad spin on her decision.
Also, Holly didn't get paid for the article, which seems really unfortunate, esp. because she's getting lambasted at places like Jezebel and, formerly, here. (I've pulled my original post, which was about how writing negative travel articles made all travelers look bad.)
Interestingly, the Jezebel commenters have also figured this out, and are jumping to her defense. (Well, most of them.)
Thanks, Sara. I hope that the Lost Girls blog posts something about this, because they're bound to get a lot of traffic from people curious to know who Holly Corbett is.
Monday, January 28, 2008
Oh my slow-cooker
You were such a nice gift
By helping me cook lentils
You help me live a life of thrift.
Oh my slow-cooker
You are so freakin' sweet
Add water in the morning
When I come back, there's food to eat.
Oh my slow-cooker
You neither overboil
Nor leave those stains on my stove
'Cause I would never stir often enough, and dal goo would run out of the sides of the pot, and leave those stains that kind of looked like foam but were actually really hard and required me to scrub at my range top with a sponge which really was too much work and (oh wait, I've got it) toil.
And you make the dal have such a lovely soft texture...
My giant blue foot, which I was mistakenly calling a "Smurf Foot" until I remembered that Smurfs wear white footed leggings (except for Smurfette, who wears heels -- btw, if you want to read something bizarre and anti-feminist, check out Smurfette's biography), seems to be healing a bit.
There's no pain left except for an occasional dull throbbing, so I'm off the Vicodin (for now).
I haven't done much walking because my doctor told me to stay in bed for these past three days (I go back to my university work tomorrow), but I can already tell that walking is going to be really weird.
For starters, although I have a complete range of mobility in my ankle, I have no mobility within the foot itself, and the combination cast and orthopedic shoe put a lot of weight on my leg. To understand what walking is like, strap a large brick to the bottom of your foot and see how well you get around.
I told my roommate that I wanted one of those signs that said "Slow-Moving Vehicle."
Showering is no big deal (strap on a garbage sack and tape it to the skin), but getting dressed is tricky. Even putting on sweatpants is a long, inch-by-inch process. Do you remember what it was like trying to get a pair of pants on a Ken doll? It's the same problem.
Every once in a while I can feel the pins, but they don't really hurt. They just feel... there. That's cool. I'm dorky enough to think it's cool. ^__^
This sort of thing is theoretically supposed to teach me patience and blah blah, but I'm already pretty good for patience and am more interested in finding out how to get around without completely screwing up my body alignment, etc. Thoughts?
Saturday, January 26, 2008
A friend forwarded me this article about Michelle Obama, which I think everyone should read.
Michelle Obama apparently cured Barack of commitment-phobia (the story of the wedding proposal is priceless), and she's fighting for more family-friendly policies in the workplace.
Oh, and Barack still does his full share of chores at home, even though he's running for president.
That's fantastic. The fact that they still take out their own garbage is fantastic. And the fact that Barack is still taking out the garbage in the middle of all this campaigning means that he knows how to live in the "real world."
He does the laundry, makes the bed, takes out the garbage, she says.
"The girls need to see him doing that, and he knows I need him to do that," she says.
"That was a meeting of the minds that we had to reach.
"I wasn't content with saying, `You're doing important things in the world, so go off and be important and I'll handle everything else here."
Which can only be good for America, 'cause we've been governed by a man living in an astonishingly fake world for far too long.
This is a fantastic excuse for me to play one of my favorite John Linnell songs. ^__^
I am so excited, especially since the sources say he creamed Clinton.
I'd jump up and down, if I could. Barack Obama is the most rockingest presidential candidate ever.
IF YOU ARE NOT REGISTERED TO VOTE THEN OMGWTF REGISTER!
So yesterday I had surgery on my (right) big toe, since the break was complicated enough that it couldn't simply be buddy-taped to my index toe.
(It is a testament to my nerdiness that when I saw my own x-rays, the first thing I said was "cool!" and then when the doctor gave me this "no, it's not cool" look, added "I mean, that looks like it's going to be difficult to fix.")
I showed up at the hospital ready to roll up a pant leg and let the surgeon do his work, which... shows how little I know about surgery.
Things I learned:
1. I got the full "awesome" treatment, which included being wheeled around the (tiny) hospital in a wheelchair. Am waiting to see how much they're going to charge me for the ride.
2. I had to remove all of my clothing, including my bra, because the three metal hooks "might interfere with the equipment." The hospital gown they gave me had been pre-warmed for my comfort. I wish all of my clothes could come to me pre-warmed.
3. The operating room (operating theatre?) looked pretty much like they do on TV. I was hooked up to lots of beeping machines, there were those giant round lightbulb things hanging over me, etc.
4. The local anesthesia hurt terribly going in, but after that I didn't feel a thing.
5. Not even when the surgeon took what appeared to be a small electric screwdriver and literally screwed things into my toe.
6. There was a nurse whose duty seemed to be to stand by my head and ask me questions, so as to distract me from what was going on at my feet (she also prevented me from craning my neck up to watch, unfortunately). What question did she lead off with? "You have a very pretty voice. Where are you from?"
6.5. To tie in to the "where are you from?" question and Manish's recent post on mispronouncing Sanjay, when I was first introduced to my surgeon he asked me ("building rapport," no doubt) why I pronounced my name incorrectly. I explained that it used Germanic rather than Italianate vowel sounds, and he knew what I was talking about, which was actually pretty neat. Those med-school grads are smart.
7. At the end, they gave me a choice of colors for the soft cast which I will be wearing for the next 4-6 weeks. It should be obvious which color I picked.
8. The soft cast (and its combination orthopedic shoe) are gigantic. So much so, that when I was in the recovery room trying to put my pants back on, the nurse helping me said "you might not be able to get that foot into any of your pants, honey" and brought me a pair of scrubs to wear home. I'm excited to see how much these cool scrubs are going to cost me. Also curious to know what I'll be wearing for the next 4-6 weeks.
9. Vicodin rocks. The nurse did warn me that I would wake up at 2:30 a.m. in great pain regardless of the Vicodin, and whadda-you-know, she was right. I wonder why.
10. When I go back to school I am seriously going to get a cane from our prop shop. The surgeon and the nurses all told me "you can walk normally on this," but I have found that trying to put any weight on the foot results in giant screaming pain and thus have been literally hopping back and forth to only the most necessary places, like the bathroom. (If this continues for the next day or so I will call them to ask if the pain is "normal.")
11. If you're ever planning to have surgery, go to your local animal shelter and adopt a cat. Having a kitty purring on your chest is the best thing to make you feel better. If I were the entrepreneurial type, I would start a business that rents cats to people recuperating from illnesses and injuries. (The business would also include a human assistant who would stop by every day and feed the animal, clean the litterbox, etc. Oh, and feel free to tell me that this business already exists.)
That's all for now. I'll keep you posted as to my recovery.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
When I was a kid (we're talking five years old here), my sister and I used to make our own "soundtracks" by holding a tape recorder up to our television set while we watched a movie. Using this method, we created "albums" for The Sound of Music, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, Heidi's Song, and all of our other childhood favorites.
We didn't just record the songs; we actually recorded every bit of underscoring throughout the film. Sometimes, we recorded our voices as well, arguing over who got to turn the tape recorder off.
(When I was older and found out that record companies actually produced professional-grade movie soundtracks, which included not only songs but also underscoring, I was more than a bit miffed that someone had already thought of this concept which, previously, I believed I had invented.)
Anyway. Two decades later, after CDs and mp3s and Napster and iTunes and the fact that I can have any song in the world I want for just 99 cents, I'm doing the exact same thing.
I'm making myself an album by going to YouTube, finding fanvideos of songs I'd like copies of, and holding a microphone up to my laptop speakers.
The audio quality is fairly poor, but then again... so am I.
And necessity is the mother of invention.
(I could write another post, at another time, about how when I was a kid we had rabbit ears taped to the top of our television and my sister and I watched hour after hour of fuzzy PBS; and now, after flat-screen and high-def and TiVO and everything else, I've still got rabbit ears taped to the top of my television and actually watch most of the things I'm interested in seeing on tiny, fuzzy YouTube screens. The technology keeps getting better, but somehow I never catch up with it. Meh.)
Went to the surgeon today, and it turns out that A. my foot will be very easy to fix and B. my insurance will cover 80/20.
Which is nice.
I was given the opportunity to either be completely anesthetized, or to just have my big toe numbed.
The cost differential was a bit ginormous ($700 for the entire body, $100 for the toe), so I elected that they numb the toe only.
Which means... I get to watch the surgeon work on it.
This is making my nerd heart very happy.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
I have to see an orthopedic surgeon tomorrow.
To quote a friend: "But that's the most expensive surgeon of all! My husband was going to be an orthopedic surgeon before he decided to become a professor... yeah, we regret that mistake all the time..."
I was going to write a quirky post about the ironic fun of breaking my big toe and driving my car into a ditch in a two-day span, mocking up my mishaps Bridget Jones-style and dubbing myself Calamity Jane, only without the guns (and without the anti-Native American rhetoric).
But mostly I am feeling miserable about two aspects:
1. How am I going to pay for this? (The first thing out of my doctor's mouth after she told me that I needed to see a surgeon was "and your insurance won't cover it.")
2. How long will it be before I can start doing yoga again? (Not doing regular stretchies makes Blue very cranky. Friends can attest.)
It's really weird to be sitting here knowing that there's a bone broken somewhere inside of me. The strange thing is that it doesn't hurt at all. Which makes me, probably, very lucky.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Back to being a graduate student.
Doing something constantly. 33 contact hours/wk plus homeworks.
That means... the lovely yoga practice schedule I set for myself while temping (which basically involved me doing yoga during the hour of daily syndicated Simpsons episodes on Fox) has gone out the cliched window and is being replaced by unenviable softness. (Someone remind me that guys like a little softness, 'kay?)
It also means I have no clue what happened in Michigan on Tuesday, except it involved Romney doing something and Clinton doing something else which she shouldn't have done because the DNC hadn't approved Michigan anyway.
On the plus side, I really like my coursework this semester. I convinced my advisers that every theatre person should be well-versed in the art of running a business, and so I am taking two grad-level business courses. It's such an interesting dynamic to go from grad seminars which are all about the interpersonal (i.e. "working with actors") and which contain very few "right answers" (but plenty of wrong ones), to a course where I can, quite satisfactorily, point to figures and numbers and have them lead me to a logical, viable conclusion.
So if I post sporadically for a while... well... yeah. I'm in teh classroom, teachin' teh undergrads. Etc.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
So I managed to snag myself a lovely glass bottle when I was at a departmental lunch meeting.
Brilliant, I thought. Now I have a re-usable water container that doesn't leach bisphenol-A.
I was all ready to carry that water bottle around with me, refilling it and washing it, for the entire semester. I slipped it into the bottle holster on my messenger bag and set out to seize the day!
Six hours later (the first six of an eleven-hour stretch; I have 30 contact hours/week this semester) I reached for my bottle holster to find it... empty.
Lost, in less than one day.
I just hope whoever finds it puts it in a recycle bin or something.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Samrat Sharma just wrote a post about the four stages of dating a gamer:
Level two, which comes about very soon to fairly early, depending on the season (Christmas deluge plays weird murder games in the relationship) is marked by resigned acceptance. Go on then, she thinks, play your stupid games. At least I know where you are at all times. At least you’re not eyeing my best friend, or shagging someone on the side.
Probably true, if the lady involved is not a gamer herself. But what if she is?
Stage One: Wow. There's A Girl Who Likes The Same Stuff I Like!
This is the stage in which the girl (not yet a girlfriend) reveals that she is a gamer. She often becomes a girlfriend by virtue of that revelation alone. I once got a date by using the pickup line "so, how many of Shadow's dreams did you get?"
Stage Two: Where We Play So Many Video Games We Forget To Make Out
Title's self-explanatory. The relationship starts out with about a 50:50 "games vs. nookie" ratio, but after about a month turns into around 90:10. Sure, there's the casual, friendly kiss when you walk in the door, but then you get handed a controller and all your energy's devoted on making sure Pikachu beats Link.
Stage Three: Enter the Tall, Blonde, Hot, Non-Gamer Girl
See, what happens is that by becoming your guy's gamer buddy, you fall into the role of the "smart, mechanical girl." And we all know what happens to that girl. Chrono dumps Lucca for Marle, Cloud dumps Tifa for Aeris, and your guy will soon dump you for the tall, leggy blonde who has no idea how to beat him at Mario Kart 64 and thinks that his little video game habit is "so cute!"
The guy will offer you his friendship, as a consolation prize, and also because he needs someone to play games with. This will end, however, as soon as the new girlfriend gets jealous (which is pretty soon).
But, if Samrat's post is right, all of the Luccas of the world can smile vindictively knowing that Marle is going to leave Chrono for an i-banker. ^__^ (Unless, of course, Chrono uses Samrat's "cheat code.")
Saturday, January 12, 2008
I haven't done a cooking post in a long time. Mostly because I haven't cooked any new recipes recently. I made a delicious karhi yesterday, which prompted my roommate to offer to pay me to cook dinner for her every night, forever.
And today, for the first time, I made idlis.
Technically, I didn't make idlis. Technically, I added water to an idli mix and steamed it in an egg poacher (which Bitterlemons had suggested I use instead of shelling out for an idli pan).
But when they were done, they looked like idlis and they tasted like idlis, which made me very, very happy. (To be fair, they weren't as fluffy as the idlis I got in India, which I am assuming was the fault of the idli mix and not the egg poacher. I suppose I should get a grinder and start making my own batter if I want authentic fluffiness.)
I also made chutney and sambar, both of which I have made before. Sambar turned out a little thick, but that was okay.
And then... well, when I was at the desi grocery, there was a box of gulab jamun mix sitting right next to the box of idli mix. It only cost seventy-nine cents, and I do love gulab jamuns... of course, the idiocy of trying to recreate a dessert made from fresh paneer and rose essence by adding water to some white powder that can be purchased for $0.79...
The results were disgusting, to say the least, and I managed to fill the entire apartment with smoke during the "deep-frying" part. From now on, if I want gulab jamuns, I'm going to have to buy the ones that come in the tin can.
I just realized something, and blame my ignorance of the presidential primary system for not bringing it to your attention earlier.
Hillary Clinton did not win New Hampshire.
Sure, she won the popular vote. And that two-percentage-point lead over Obama (which amounts to about 8,000 votes) has become the subject of every political analyst in the country.
OMG Clinton won. Was it because she cried? Was it because white people in New Hampshire hate black people? Was it because the local universities were closed, so Obama couldn't claim his youth vote? Was it because of Gloria Steinem and her "most-emailed" editorial?
Even I fell into that trap. I saw the results and thought that Clinton had won.
But she didn't. Clinton won the popular vote. That's all. In terms of delegates (the people who actually count, since the presidential nomination -- like the presidential election -- does not rely on the popular vote but is instead based on the number of awarded delegates from each state), Clinton and Obama tied. Nine delegates each.
It's worth noting, btw, that currently Clinton has 24 total delegates and Obama has 25. This is going to be a tight race.
And why aren't these statistics on the front page of the newspapers, instead of all of this analyzing the decisions of 8,000 people whose votes didn't actually affect the final outcome? (Of course, the incessant analysis will probably affect the future outcome: the Michigan primary, next week.)
Friday, January 11, 2008
College Student Leaves "Ambiguous" Status Message On Facebook; University Responds By Slipping Expulsion Letter Under Dorm Room Door
We're back to the serious now, Team Readers.
Do you remember Allen Lee, the high school student who got arrested for following a “do not judge or censor what you are writing” classroom journaling project and writing the phrase "Drugs Drugs Drugs are fun. Stab, Stab, Stab?"
(Incidentally, although the story was in several major newspapers when it first broke, none of them followed through with what happened to Mr. Lee after his arrest. Allen Lee was charged with disorderly conduct, but nowhere on the internet can I find out if he was actually convicted.)
Now Valdosta State University, Home of the Blazers, has expelled sophomore T. Hayden Barnes. The reason?
In a letter apparently slipped under his dorm room door, Ronald Zaccari, the university’s president, wrote that he “present[ed] a clear and present danger to this campus” and referred to the “attached threatening document,” a printout of an image from an album on Barnes’s Facebook profile. The collage featured a picture of a parking garage, a photo of Zaccari, a bulldozer, the words “No Blood for Oil” and the title “S.A.V.E.-Zaccari Memorial Parking Garage,” a reference to a campus environmental group and Barnes’s contention that the president sought to make the structures part of his legacy at the university.Using the word "memorial," even in satire, now apparently constitutes a death threat.
It gets worse:
As additional evidence of the threat posed by Barnes, the document referred to a link he posted to his Facebook profile whose accompanying graphic read: “Shoot it. Upload it. Get famous. Project Spotlight is searching for the next big thing. Are you it?” It doesn’t mention that Project Spotlight was an online digital video contest and that “shoot” in that context meant “record.” The appeal also mentions that Barnes’s profile stated, at one point, that he was “cleaning out and rearranging his room and thus, his mind, or so he hopes.” That was likely a status update, commonly used by Facebook members to update their friends on what they’re doing at a particular moment — whether literally or metaphorically.Emphases mine. Both quotations come from Inside Higher Ed.
Wow. Barnes had been trying to organize students to protest the building of the aforementioned "Zaccari Memorial" Parking Garage, while simultaneously exploring amateur filmmaking and cleaning out his dorm room. Sounds like an average hyper-involved college sophomore to me (well, except for the "cleaning the dorm room" part). Does not sound like a threat.
And yet that expulsion notice got slipped under Barnes' door (was campus mail not working that day?), all the same.
On a slightly unrelated note, Taser International has just released the world's first "taser which is also an mp3 player!" It should come with a complimentary mp3 of Harvey Danger's "Flagpole Sitta:" Paranoia, paranoia, everybody's coming to get me...
Thursday, January 10, 2008
You might ask, noting my fascination with computer-generated avatars, why I've never posted a Yahoo! Avatar on the blog.
My answer is... dunno. After all, I've made several. Why not post a few?
So I logged on to an ancient Yahoo account and pulled up my avatars.
Then I noticed something strange.
Although all of the avatars I made were based off of the same generic mold, they appear to age in a sort of logical progression. The most recent avatar looks decidedly older than the first one.
At the far left we have an avatar from a few years ago, back when my chosen haircolor was much more "Little Mermaid" than "natural." (Herbal Essences Cinnaberry. I wouldn't recommend it.) I was a beginning grad student and still living off of a bunch of thrift-store clothes I bought in Minneapolis.
In the middle we have one from last year, where I've tried to bridge the gap between "professional" and "casual." (People who teach theatre generally have to manage both, since their jobs require them to do all kinds of extreme physical "actor-y" things.) Note the layering. As I once said, to a dear friend, "Remember when women only had to wear one shirt? Now we have to buy at least two if we want ourselves to be completely covered."
Also note the colors. I have a weakness for wearing color, even if it doesn't always suit me.
And lastly there's my most recent avatar: SuperTemp! Clearly it's "Take Your Cat To Work Day." And don't I just look as polished as can be?
Anyway. The last avatar looks considerably older than the first one, although they're all cast from the same mold. It's like The Picture of Dorian Gray, except I'm -- sniff! -- getting older too...
For those of you not in the know, one of my favorite games is the "can I make it look like me?" avatar game.
Today's adventure took me to Meez.com, home of the 3D Animated Avatar!
I've never been rendered in three-dimensional animation before.
Neither has my cat.
But I think she's enjoying all the petting.
Oh, and I did have the option to clothe myself in a blue salwar, although for some reason it did not include a dupatta, so I elected not to wear it (it would feel so... incomplete).
Here it is!
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
I realized, after yesterday's post, that it could have been interpreted as an attack on Clinton and Obama for "acting" female/black.
"Are you saying," a savvy commenter might ask (though none of you did), "that they should downplay, hide, or ignore such a fundamental part of their identities?"
Absolutely not. What I meant, though I failed to explain it, was that yesterday morning we entered a new stage in the presidential campaign.
Technically this stage could have started the day before, when Clinton cried in front of her constituents (I'm linking to Fox News only because their headline, "Special Report Panel on Hillary Clinton's Emotional Moment," is too hilarious to ignore).
But for me it started Tuesday morning, with the now-"most emailed" Gloria Steinem editorial.
The headline was enough. "Women Can Never Be Front-Runners." And in the article, Steinem dared to imply the unspeakable: Vote for Clinton, ladies, or you'll set feminism back 100 years. Vote for Clinton not just because of her policies, but because of her chromosomes. Vote for Clinton because we've all been saying we want a female president, saying it for decades, and now it's time to put our money where our mouth is.
Before yesterday, the race was different. To paraphrase a comment I posted on Ultrabrown: Both a Clinton win and an Obama win will be a milestone for America. But what's great about this election is that it isn't about "getting the milestone." People are most interested in each of the candidates' policies and platforms, and the fact that we get the milestone as a bonus is what makes this election awesome.
Now that Steinem's called it out, I'm worried that we're going to see a lot more campaigning directly for the milestone.
And that isn't what this election should be about.
So Obama didn't carry the New Hampshire primary.
Not that Clinton winning is necessarily bad, of course; she's a perfectly qualified candidate and all that, but... well, it's like when I was talking it over with my sister.
"Yeah, Hillary would do a good job," she said.
"Yeah," I said.
There was a pause.
"But she's not cool," I said.
"No," my sister said. "She's not cool."
(Then we discussed the absurdity of Ms. Clinton trying to get work done at the same desk upon which her husband once received... well, let's put it this way. Historical furniture or not, if I were her, I'd completely redecorate. Maybe even burn some sage.)
It is also a little troubling to see the two lead Democratic candidates engaging in "displays" of what is-though-it-is-trying-not-to-be their dominant brand characteristic. Clinton starts crying, and Obama starts invoking the Civil Rights Movement. We were doing so well, too, just keeping it about the issues. We don't need you to remind us that you are female/black. We're, like, totally aware of that.
Interestingly (one might say "obviously"), they're both choosing to display a part of themselves which their constituents have said is missing from the brand (Clinton, of course, a woman criticized for not being "emotional" or "soft" enough; and Obama, a true African American, criticized for not being "black" enough).
We'll see where that takes them.
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
From Jabberwock's review of The Golden Compass, and an essay on the trouble with transferring fantasy novels to the screen, comes a link to "create your own daemon!"
Modest? Um... really? Other than that, it's pretty accurate. Particularly because I have a tiny animal, in those exact colors, purring next to me right now.
Who's your daemon?
Having spent most of my life in the rural Midwest, I'm pretty familiar with storms. I've seen storms in which lightning strikes have been so close as to cause sparks (and, in one case, a small fireball) in my family's living room. Once lightning struck our water pipe and came out in the faucet in our kitchen sink. My mother happened to have her hands underneath that running faucet, and was literally lifted into the air and thrown across the room.
Yep. Crazy things happen in the Midwest sometimes. (Mom's fine now, btw.)
I also know a bit about tornadoes. Our town was in the path of one in 2003. Wiped out most of the trees and several buildings and houses.
So that's why I was surprised to turn on the television last night and find out that the place where I currently live was under a tornado warning.
I looked out of the window. Looked like rain.
Looked back at the television. The announcer was all "get to the lowest level of your house! stay away from windows!"
I live on an upper-story apartment. In the event of a tornado, it would make the most sense to seek shelter with my downstairs neighbors, but I didn't want to bother them if it was a false alarm.
Looked out of the window again. It was raining. Lightning in the distance, but very far away. Pretty peaceful, actually. Not like when we actually had a tornado, when the sky changed its color and the air changed its smell and we could see clouds actually start rotating.
So I logged on to the National Weather Service homepage to see what was going on.
They had, in fact, issued a Tornado Warning for my area. Their explanation was that "current weather conditions might lead to the possibility of funnel rotation."
"Might lead to the possibility?" Back when I was growing up, that was called a Tornado Watch. A Warning meant that someone had actually seen a funnel cloud. So far, no one had seen anything.
Meanwhile, the man on television was following suit to this new reclassification. "There might be the possibility of a tornado sometime in the next hour, so... go hide in your basement right now!"
Sure. Maybe they're doing this in the hopes that early action will keep everyone safe. But people generally don't take drills -- or false alarms -- seriously. I am less likely to go bother my neighbors over a Tornado Warning now that I know what its new classification means.
From now on, I'm waiting until I see green or hear sirens.
Editor's Note: Blue is well aware that the NWS is much better at "doing weather" than she is, and that they've got their reasons for calling things Watches or Warnings. Still, she wishes they were still using the old system. Maybe she's just nostalgic.
I'm exciteder than waiting for Santa to come on Christmas.
This presidential election is cooler than video games and comics, cooler than watching SRK fight bad guys while free-falling from an airplane, cooler even than ice cream and popsicles and those colored ice things that came in the plastic tubes you had to rip apart with your teeth...
Monday, January 7, 2008
I love Ultima III: Exodus. It's one of my all-time favorite video games.
Which means I was thrilled to find this two-and-one-half-hour narrated video walkthrough on YouTube.
The narrator knows a lot of stuff about Ultima that I never knew, despite my (assumed) familiarity with the game.
He also throws in some great non sequiturs, like "I'll name this character "High," because I like high places."
Sunday, January 6, 2008
Persepolis: War is Horrible, Family is Wonderful, Art is Beautiful, Quarter-Life Crises are Universal
Yesterday, while I was waiting for my landlord to restore water to my building, I went to Borders and read Persepolis.
Cover-to-cover, both parts, in one long sitting.
It was fantastic. I want to read it again to catch all of the parts I missed the first time. I wasn't familiar with much of the history (the Iran hostage crisis, yes, but everything else... no, unfortunately), so reading it -- especially with Satrapi's "jumping back and forth in time" narrative -- was like putting together a list; what happened when? Who did what to whom?
When the list became muddled, I gave it up and focused entirely on the characters. The Satrapi family is, after all, the heart of the story. I soon became enveloped in their world, mesmerized by the emotion revealed through pages of simple pen-and-ink:
(Image taken from Amazon's "Search Inside!" feature.)
By the time I reached the second half of the book, I was surprised to see how much I seemed to identify with the character of Marjane. She spent her childhood under the shadow of violence, bombings, and repressed liberty, after all, and I spent my childhood... well, here. But there she was, moved (by her parents, for her own safety) to a boarding house in a country halfway around the world where she didn't speak the language and didn't know anybody, and I thought "yeah, I've been there." The way she negotiated Austria was much the way in which I negotiated India.
Then there was the long section in which Marjane, alone over the holidays, realizes she has nothing to do with her time except read (this is the section in which she makes four trips to the supermarket in one day just because it puts her in contact with other people), and I thought "that's exactly what I am doing now."
Then, of course, the final chapters of the book, in which an adult Marjane, returned to Iran, tries to puzzle out what she should do with her life: should an educated woman pursue a career? a husband? children? How can a woman form an equal relationship with a male partner? How does this fit in with being a citizen who fights for social change? How much can one give up and still be oneself?
I thought "It's the quarter-life crisis!" Even in Iran. Even after a childhood without the privilege and entitlement characteristic of "quarter-life" Americans. Even after being sent away from one's family at fourteen and left to fend for oneself in a foreign country.
Even after a remarkably, unimaginably different life, Marjane and her friends ask themselves the same questions I (and my friends) ask. That's something worth considering.
I can't wait for the movie.
When I got back to the apartment, there was water! Woo-hoo!
Saturday, January 5, 2008
I'm live-blogging the New Hampshire "Facebook" Debates (yes, that's what they're called). I missed the first hour because I was at a Bollywood cover band concert. ^__^
Editor's Note: All of Blue's personal biases concerning the candidates absolutely factor into her analysis.
* Tuned in mid-point to hear Richardson denigrating "a president who has ignored the Constitution and established himself in a dictatorial role." I thought "wow, that's ballsy," and then realized he was talking about Musharraf.
* Richardson proposes to invade Pakistan and establish a supervisory presence. Ten points from Hufflepuff.
* Clinton proposes to attack Pakistan, as long as we can do it without getting India involved. Ten points from Slytherin.
* Obama thinks both the idea of "invasion" and "invasion+force" are wrong, and invokes Iraq... then offers no other solution. No points awarded or revoked.
On the Threat of a Terrorist Attack on US Soil:
* Edwards says a long string of incoherent words. Ten points from Ravenclaw. Imitating Luna Lovegood does not a viable presidential candidate make.
* Clinton insists we will attack the terrorists' homeland, so that they do not have the opportunity to return to a "safe haven." Twenty points from Slytherin.
* Richardson says there are bigger things to worry about. Ten points for Hufflepuff!
On "Is Obama Inexperienced?" (This was an actual question posed to all of the candidates.)
* Clinton says that promising change does not equal change, and claims that Obama has flip-flopped on past issues (e.g. health care), which makes him a flake.
* Obama argues that he has not flip-flopped, but matured. Then he describes the single-payer health care program he would like to create: the "Jimmy Buffett pays more than Joe Schmoe" plan. He says people should not be penalized for not having health care (the Clinton/Edwards "mandatory health care" plan), since the people who don't have it are the ones who can't afford it. Quote: "No one wants to avoid having health care!" Ten points for Gryffindor!
* Clinton tries to steer the conversation back to the horrors of flip-flopping. Ten points from Slytherin.
* Obama asks everyone on the platform to please avoid turning this debate into a series of personal attacks on each other. The camera zooms in for a sexy, sexy close-up. All we need right now is some inspirational music. Twenty points for Gryffindor.
* Edwards says something incoherent. "The forces of status quo are going to attack." WTF? Ten points from Ravenclaw.
* Clinton reminds everyone that she provided health care to children in New Hampshire and the National Guard. She invokes her experience and her past history of accomplishments. Assuming she's representing herself accurately, twenty points for Slytherin. Pretty impressive!
* Richardson tries to recreate Obama's special "can't we all just get along?" moment, and follows it with his own list of accomplishments. Unfortunately, it falls flat, especially since he prefaces each accomplishment with "what's wrong with....," as in "What's wrong with being the Secretary of Energy?" Five points from Hufflepuff.
* Edwards just doesn't make a damn bit of sense. Easy on the eyes, though.
On the Tenuous Position of the Middle Class:
* Edwards says that middle-class people who need jobs can go work at Costco! Or at AT&T: "They'll even be unionized soon!" Edwards, tell me what kind of middle-class family can live on $7/hr. Screw you. Twenty points from Ravenclaw.
* Obama says that the lower and middle classes are working harder for less money, less time with families, and less health care than ever before. He wants to change this. He doesn't really explain how. Ten points from Gryffindor.
* Clinton wants to pull out immediately. Like... tomorrow. Doesn't explain or predict what will happen to the Iraqis. No points awarded or revoked.
* Richardson acknowledges the giant clusterfuck that we've gotten ourselves into, and suggests pulling out within a year, although he admits that there are a lot of problems still to solve. Ten points for Hufflepuff.
* Obama says he has opposed the war from the start. He supports a phased reduction of troops, which will send a "clear signal to the Iraqi government." What kind of signal? He also says he will force the Iraqis to create an Oil Law. Um... I guess I don't know what he's talking about here, and I'm going to assume it's because of my own ignorance. Five points for Gryffindor.
* Edwards says that when the Brits pulled out of Iraq (when were the Brits in Iraq?) there was an instant reduction of violence. He says right now the American troops are acting like enablers, "propping up" Shiite/Sunni violence, and that has to stop. He proposes pulling out within a year. Ten points for Ravenclaw.
* Richardson starts trying to make that inspirational speech again. Still not working. The moderator tells him to stop talking. Ten points from Hufflepuff.
On "Why do you think people like Obama more than you?" (Another actual question. Is this Facebook's contribution?)
* Clinton says "you mean people don't like me?" and then reminds everyone of how awesome she is. Nice save for a really ridiculous question. Ten points for Slytherin.
* Obama says that any of the Democratic candidates would be "better than Bush," although he's glad that people like him, because he represents change. Then he cites all of the things he's done that are awesome. It's about time, Obama. Don't let Clinton hog all the "I've done cool shit" glory. Ten points for Gryffindor.
* Richardson says that experience should count for something, and that he's the only person on the stage who has ever balanced a budget. (Guess checkbooks don't count.) Lame. Then he says that he's the only person on the stage who's negotiated with foreign governments. Worth noting. No points awarded or revoked.
* The moderator says that Richardson didn't actually do much as Secretary of Energy, and we still have the same energy problems we had ten years ago. Richardson gets pissed off and starts turning red. Ten points from Hufflepuff.
* Then the moderator asks Richardson a question about whether "youth is a detriment," and Richardson reminds us all that Kennedy was a very young president. Sitting next to him, of course, is Ms. Clinton, wife of the youngest elected president, whom Richardson either forgets or ignores. Ten points from Hufflepuff.
* Edwards says "this battle is deep inside me." Doesn't actually answer the question about youth vs. experience. Ten points from Ravenclaw.
Missed the next section because I was busy looking up whether or not Clinton was actually the youngest president, which is something I remember from high school but I think is actually... um... wrong. Internet says it's Kennedy. Ten points from me.
Okay... everyone's sound-bites are starting to jumble together. Clinton's talking again about how no one's done as much change as she has, and now they're all talking at once. The audience is applauding. I guess Facebook-users like this kind of stuff. ^__^
Blue Gets Loopy 'Cause She's Heard Too Many Words:
* Edwards talks a lot. Did you know he was the son of a mill worker?
* Obama says the best president is the one who can inspire an entire country to be better. Camera closes in on him again. He's like the SRK of the Democratic candidates... any minute now I expect him to start singing.
* Richardson seems hurt and disgruntled that he's not doing better. He's very defensive. Bad mojo.
* I think it's Edwards' clauses. He puts them in the wrong order. His sentences have too many provisional clauses, and by the time he gets to the object we've forgotten completely what the subject was.
On the Environment:
* Richardson proposes mandates. 30% by the year 2020, 80% by the year 2040. Not sure what that means. No points awarded or received.
* Obama sees Richardson's mandates and raises him a "100% auction." An auction? Then he starts talking about "cap-and-trade." I really should start boning up on my environmental buzzwords. Oh, then he mentions that Americans will have to sacrifice. I can get behind that. Ten points for Gryffindor.
* Clinton skips the environment entirely and talks about the upcoming recession. Once we get the recession taken care of, we can start working on energy efficiency.
On the Economy:
Blue's slipping, team. This is harder than she thought it would be. They're all using lingo and numbers... oh, wait, now Edwards is saying that our veterans are living under bridges and our college students can't find jobs... um... ten points for Ravenclaw... how can anyone listen to all of this and absorb it?
This is probably why the majority of Americans will vote on the "blink" principle. For me, that's the following:
* Clinton's smart, but she's too aggressive and I don't support her plan to kick the asses of other countries.
* Richardson is too volatile. He's getting angry at the moderator, for goodness sake! I don't want that energy running our country.
* Edwards doesn't make a damn bit of sense.
* Obama may not have all of the plans (yet), but Ceiling Cat Almighty do I want to get in line and follow where he's taking me. I trust, instinctively, that he can make the right choices when he comes to them.
And while I was typing the above, the debates ended. So I can say I live-blogged to the finish!
Called my sister last night. She's in Washington and knows much more about the inner workings of politics than I do.
I had one question.
"What can I do to be part of Super Duper Tuesday?"
It seems like the only thing I can do at this point is vote (although holding a sign and jumping around with excitement -- a legal distance from the polling places, of course -- also comes to mind).
Also, if you haven't yet read this essay at Group News Blog, you should:
And once Obama started talking, after about fifteen seconds, my wife suddenly flipped over towards the wall, covering her head and saying through the muffled blankets...
“I can't watch!”
And in that moment, she verbalized exactly what was on my mind, and I dare say what was on the minds of a considerable majority of the African Americans watching him call down verbal thunder in those minutes.
I found myself not unconsciously scanning the roaring crowd, praying to not see a weapon pop above the throng and point at him.
I suppose it's a bit remarkable that I hadn't even thought of that (or, at least, indicative of my privileged/isolated background), but I hadn't.
Friday, January 4, 2008
I was all set to write a post about how, even if you thought Obama was inexperienced or overidealistic, you should still vote for him because he would be the most likely to increase diversity in the executive branch.
I was going to link it to my post on color-blind casting, to wit:
The reason (I believe) that directors so often cast only a "minority" (pun intended) of non-white actors in performances, even in performances intended to be color-blind, seems correlated in some way with the way the director has experienced people "of color" in his/her own life. That is to say, if a director does not already have significant personal relationships with a diverse group of people, the director is less likely to give significant stage time to a diverse group of people.
and note that Obama would be the candidate guaranteed not to view "white" as the "default" color of humankind and thus save us from a government where the automatic assumption is that decisions are made by white people for white people.
I was going to close with the clincher; that increased diversity in Washington can only benefit the country, and that even if Obama himself is "inexperienced," he's likely to surround himself with smart people who can help him.
Just think about how much help Bush gets (and then think of how many of them have resigned/been removed from their positions for misconduct), and imagine it instead with Obama and his team of more awesome.
Then I did some research.
Do you know who currently has the most diverse campaign staff?
Obama's not even second. He's third.
(This graph appears on many news aggregators and blogs; I took it from Feministing.)
What's an Obamaniac to do?
The pipes in my apartment are frozen, and neither I nor my downstairs neighbors have any running water.
Can't even make myself a cup of tea to commiserate.
Also it's cold. Really, really cold.
(I do have a space heater, which extends heat in a five-inch radius. I sit and hug it.)
Thursday, January 3, 2008
When I was in undergrad, the coolest website going around was... well, okay, it was Homestar Runner, but the second coolest was the Brick Testament.
The Gospel according to Lego.
Now those zany Bible-interpreters have taken it a step further -- a revised Revised Standard Version, if you will.
May I present to you: The Bible, As Written By Lolcats.
1 Oh hai. In teh beginnin Ceiling Cat maded teh skiez An da Urfs, but he did not eated dem.
2 Da Urfs no had shapez An haded dark face, An Ceiling Cat rode invisible bike over teh waterz.
I'm working my way through this highly entertaining translation, which has the added benefit of reminding me of a few Bible stories I've long forgotten. Favorite quote thus far?
Dey wuz gonna naem him Zechariah,60 but Elizabeth wuz all "STFU we iz callin him John."I can totally see Elizabeth doing that. She was one righteous d00d. Or d00dette. Or... um... cat.
The Lolcat Bible also has illustrations, so if you want to compare and contrast with the Lego annunciation scene pictured above...
I may have to start praying to Ceiling Cat from now on.
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
I'm not making a New Year's resolution this year.
There are too many things that have to happen on their own merits (mostly dealing with graduation and post-graduation) for me to have any extra time for additional projects.
I already exercise (nearly) every day, and my food intake seems reasonable. I've also already planned my budget for the next six months, thus negating the need to make a resolution to "save more money."
(Before you all go "ooh, isn't she Little Blue Perfect," consider that I spent New Year's Eve not being kissed. Correlation does not equal causation, of course, but... am not perfect.)
But I do have a New Year's dream.
I'd like to sing somewhere. Jazz standards and Cole Porter. Decent accompanist, pretty dress.
I'd do it for free, and I'm not expecting to be "discovered" by the experience. It's just something I've wanted to do for a long time.
Unfortunately, there aren't any open mic nights at any of the bars in my current location (nor are the bars well-equipped to handle Cole Porter). There are pretty good odds that I will find myself relocating this summer, however. Perhaps in different environs the opportunity will find a way to present itself.
If all else fails, I could try the whole Secret thing again. "I will sing at an open mic night. I am singing at open mic night. I love singing at open mic night!"
('ll keep you posted on how that one turns out.)
But, as they say, stating the dream aloud is the first step. So... now it's stated, and we'll see what happens.
It was too cold to sleep last night.
For a while I tried abandoning all frugality and cranking up the thermostat, but the drafts from my charmingly antique apartment blew out the warmth the way a kid might blow out a birthday candle.
So I turned the thermostat down again (no point in paying for heat one can't feel, not to mention the associated energy costs), and huddled in bed, layered like a baklava, wearing both slippers and earmuffs.
And, trying not to freeze, I suddenly thought of Coco.
I hadn't really thought about Coco DeLaurente since I posted on my "ten-year bookiversary;" but there she was, her grubby figure planted in my brain.
"Just imagine you're Coco. This is how Coco feels."
Coco was the fifteen-year-old heroine (and alter-ego) of my adolescent novel The Red Book of Cordia. She was, at the time, everything I wasn't, including impoverished, wily, mobile (she travels through three Cordian principalities -- Nelcordia, Wrylan Dos, and Eilcavert -- in the space of six months, while I paced the streets of my tiny hometown), and, of course, orphaned. These kind of protagonists generally are.
At the time, when my winter bedroom got even the slightest bit chilly, I would think to myself "this is how Coco feels, in her unheated room at the Waverly Home for Neglected Girls; remember it, so you can write it down effectively."
Now, in an apartment so cold that the air sliced through my face with every breath, the memory re-emerged and I had to laugh.
But it put me in mind of the other games I played, when I was young, starting with the ever popular "what would [name of character in The Red Book of Cordia] do in this situation?" I think I mentally ran every major decision in high school past the handful of primary characters in my novel, and usually decided to do whatever Tiva Shirala did, as she was the character that seemed to have the most sense. (Coco, in this case, was much too impulsive and emotional; plus she lacked life experience.)
Then my mind jumped me back five years and I remembered myself, following my parents through endless grocery stores and Home Depots, playing the game "if I had to use my ears only (a nicer way of saying "if I were blind," although that's exactly how I thought of it at the time), what would I be able to discover about where I was and what was around me?"
I also played math games, imagining I was given only $10 and had to purchase ingredients for a meal for X number of people (another situation that has become all too true in reality). One afternoon I trailed my parents through the grocery store and counted every occurrence of the word "real," as in "Real Cheese!" or "Real Fruit Flavor!"
Then an even older memory popped up, one so ludicrous that I could hardly believe I once imagined it. Little Blue, probably around fourth grade, in church and taking Communion... and imagining, the entire time, that she was a female version of Oliver Twist and the pastor was the cook, handing out tiny pieces of food.
So -- Team Readers -- own up. What kind of pretend games did you play when you were younger? Were they quite this bizarre, or is there a closet fraternity of secret imaginers out there?
Oh -- and what can I do to make my apartment less cold?
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
118 lbs (dear heavens), chocolate units 2 (emptied the Christmas Godiva box), calories 700 (approx. -- peas are one of those dangerous high caloric vegetables, I believe).
Food Consumed Today:
1 cup coffee
Three-egg omelette w/4 oz. frozen peas, ground chilis
One mint-filled chocolate
One coconut-filled chocolate
Two p.m. Snowed in: my flat. Ugh. The last thing on earth I feel physically, mentally, or emotionally equipped to do is to spend another day indoors with my cat. First day of New Year has been day of boredom. Already scoured countertops, using combination of cleaning agents found underneath the sink (do cleaning agents expire? must check...), this time actually scrubbing at stove burners, etc. instead of giving general once-over swipe for removal of crumbs and appearance of cleanliness.
Wish dratted snow would stop. Can see car from window, or rather outline of car as if car were car-shaped snowman. Snow has also downed telly reception, ensuring limit of channels to one fuzzy sports game of something-or-another.
What I wouldn't give to be at a turkey curry buffet right now.