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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I am both immensely pleased and a little freaked out by this.

Here's what Disgrasian had to say. So, I'd actually stopped to think, on numerous occasions, that it was a little ridiculous that Wonder Woman was wearing a bathing suit. But I also loved the hell out of my Wonder Woman underoos, and will always have a soft spot for the memory of Lynda Carter spinning out of her skirt suit and glasses and into her star-spangled underwear. And, this picture is awesome, but kind of makes me think of that time on Gargoyles when they finally let Elisa Maza change clothes ("Protection").


Change is hard, even when it's long overdue.

A thousand words (or less)

Biden: I am stern in a confidence-inspiring way.

Obama: I am in charge. I am not putting up with your shit. And I am rocking the hell out of this tie.

Kagan: I should probably smile a little, so people don't think I look mean. And, if I put my hands here, I'll be less threatening.

This picture accompanied Adam serwer's post on Kagan's constitutional pragmatism.

Joel Stein is desperate for attention

No, really - that's the first line of his bio, which goes on to mention that he went to Stanford. For some reason, I feel like those two bits of information provide all the context you need for what follows. I should clarify that I am not knocking *everyone* who went to Stanford. I went there for grad school. Many of my good friends were undergrads there. I think, though, that my Stanford friends would be the first to admit that many of their classmates were attention-craving, glibly entitled douchebags who said inappropriate things under the guise of being funny.

Which leads us to Joel Stein's ill-conceived attempt at humor. At least, I hope it was an attempt at humor, because otherwise he's just a real jackass. The jackassery tag is for him.

I don't even need to go off on this one, kids. Deepa Iyer @ HufPo is not amused. Anna @ Sepia Mutiny is *really* not amused. But she is a hell of a lot funnier than Joel Stein. The awesomeness tag is for her.


We've all been there. You get all the way to some store where you just wanted to buy something you probably don't need, only to find it unexpectedly closed. If you're like me, you've pulled on the doors in disbelief - maybe it just looks dark inside, but it's really open! Maybe you've even pressed your face to the glass, like seeing inside was going to make the doors magically unlock. Maybe you've grumbled to other would-be-shoppers before getting back into your car, dejected and purchaseless.

This man feels your pain.
Perhaps a bit too keenly. I think the best part is when he asks, seemingly in all seriousness, if the guy filming him is nuts. 
No, sir, that would be you.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Now, please.

So we know where I'll be at midnight on November 19th. Even better: IMDB tells me that the second part is coming out in July of 2011. On the 15th. Which the day before my birthday.

This one's for E.

You're welcome.

How is it already the end of June?

So, I don't know how it got to be so long since my last post. Is it really the end of June? How is that possible?

Not a ton to write - have been doing a bit of cleaning, book selling, and general hanging out. I'm starting to get excited about my trip to La. I still have nothing to write, but have been reading and thinking. Pretty much the norm around here.

Out of the norm last week was that  L., (my best friend M's big sister) was here in the Bay Area for a few days. I gathered some suggestions for her on fun things to do (which I will eventually compile in some form, and perhaps even share), and made plans to see her on Friday. What did we do? Karaoke, of course! She was a little hesitant, but eventually went up and sang "Your Love is King," by Sade. It was well done, and I have every intention of dragging her to karaoke when I'm *finally* able to do some with my best friend in August.

I also had every intention of posting a few pictures of her at the mic, but iPhoto had some kind of freak out while they were transferring, and they got erased from the phone, but not saved to the computer. CURSES! Strangely enough, the pictures I didn't know one of my fellow karaoke-goers had taken of *me* did not get erased. Don't know which song this was during, but I pretty much always look the same when I sing. "Stare at the words. Stare at the words. Don't look at the people - STARE AT THE WORDS!"

The evening started off a little slow, with only a few other (rather annoying) people in the bar. By the end of the night, though... Well, at some point, these two women sang "I Wanna Dance With Somebody," and then the next person sang "Fame," and it was a full-on party at Encore. It's also possible that I sang backing vocals on a Meatloaf song (I'd Do Anything For Love), but luckily, there are no pictures of that  :)

On Saturday night, I went to a friend's birthday party. Saw people I very much like to see, had good conversations and tasty foods, and also got to debut one of the dresses I recently bought. I also got to road test the twist out, which continues to get positive feedback. Sadly, it'll get washed out in a day or so. It'll probably be a while before I feel like the effort of twisting it, but who knows - maybe I'll get inspired later in the week.

On Sunday, R. came over to watch True Blood. I was annoyed to find that my TiVo/Comcast interface had fritzed out, resulting in not actually recording the 6pm broadcast. Grr. Luckily, R. hadn't seen episode 2, so we watched that instead. I'd have felt terrible if she'd come over for no reason at all - she'd just done a triathlon earlier in the day! She was a good sport, though, and we did, eventually, watch both eps. 2 & 3. It seemed like we were in the clear until the recording stopped early - it was basically the end (we'd missed maybe 30 more seconds) but it was particularly annoying after the earlier recording difficulties, and because of the extreme unpleasantness of the image it ended on (I've already posted about the show, so won't get into that here).

In happier news, R., being a total rockstar, bested her previous triathlon time by a substantial margin (like 20 minutes). She claims not to be athletic, but I told her that having completed her 3rd triathlon probably means that's not true.

Here's R. (in a very red part of my red living room), with her triathlon "tat" (race number).

This morning, I slept through this earthquake, got stuff done before I even got out of bed (relatively painless call to a credit card company - thought there was a problem with the debt management program, but it's all fine), then pulled out the food processor (which I should use all the time because it's FABULOUS!) for a bit of experimental kitchen fun.

One of my roommates has a big bag of onions and wants help using them. I decided to try freezing some for use in sauces. I also read that I could do the same thing with basil, so I'm trying that, too. If it works, it'll be a good discovery. No need for things to go to waste because I can't use them quickly enough (I recently bought a basil plant, and it seemed like it wanted to be trimmed), and perhaps a time saver for the next round of sauce-making.

I also decided to make a couple of different kinds of infused water, in an attempt to get myself to drink more. Lemon I already know is good, so I made a pitcher of that. I thought I'd be trying out a smaller pitcher of cucumber, but the cucumber I thought I was going to use had overstayed its welcome. Instead, I tried it with basil, which I've read is everything from mild and refreshing to great for digestion - we'll see how that goes. I also made an iced tea with decaffeinated Earl Grey, honey, and basil. It's delicious!

Now for some errands, and maybe a little work-related reading before I'm allowed to laze away the rest of the evening.

True Blood season 3: the red flags so far


A few weeks ago, I got really excited about the impending return of HBO's True Blood. Last season was a mixed bag, in my opinion: I enjoyed much of the Dallas plot, but lost interest in the maenad storyline long before it was over. The finale was frustrating - so much maenad, but the final minutes set up some exciting drama for the season to come. I mostly don't care about Bill (I like TV Bill better than book Bill, but that is faint praise), but I was excited to see what would happen with Jessica and Hoyt, and with Jason. I love Eric, and I love Alexander Skarsgard as Eric, so I'm interested to see where TV Eric goes. And any episode with a Pam or Lafayette sighting is worthwhile - extra points if they're in the same scene. So, as the beginning of season 3 drew near, I was definitely ready to revisit Bon Temps.

Three episodes in and I'm a little worried.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Book reviews: Life is a Dream and Lizzie Borden in Love

La vida es sueño La vida es sueño by Pedro Calderón de la Barca (Translated by Nilo Cruz)
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I'm going to guess that's it's better in Spanish, or perhaps more compelling to watch than to read.

Lizzie Borden in Love: Poems in Women's Voices (Crab Orchard Series in Poetry) Lizzie Borden in Love: Poems in Women's Voices by Julianna Baggott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Beautiful. I read it from cover to cover this afternoon and look forward to reading it again.

View all my reviews >>

"Gimme and head with hair..."

Natural inspires everything that we do here at Carol’s Daughter – it defines our company culture, it defines our relationships with our consumers, and importantly it defines our approach to manufacturing our products for your use.
--Carol's Daughter
What gives, Carol's Daughter? Hair Milk was a great moisturizer - not too heavy, not to greasy, and my hair was soft with a good shine to it. And, the scent was neutral, so I didn't have to worry about getting kicked out of class or anything. The new Hair Milk adds artificial fragrance (so much for the natural) and alcohol (so much for the moisturizing). Or maybe not - I'm reading around and finding that, depending on the type of alcohol, it might actually help hair retain moisture. So, I'll do a little more research - check the alcohol and take a whiff to see what this fragrance is - before deciding. But I've stocked up a little on the old formula, just in case  ;)

In other hair news, I'm trying something new. I've been getting a little bored with my fro, wanting to change the look of it for a while now. The real problem is that I'm both lazy and broke, so I don't want to do anything labor intensive and I can't afford to have someone else do the work for me. This weekend, I decided to get over the lazy part and try a twist out. Last night, I bit the bullet and put in some work, first concocting a few things, then washing and conditioning, then twisting. First, I did a clarifying wash. To make this, I added 1 tablespoon of baking soda and 1/4 cup of water to 2 tablespoons of my regular shampoo (which, for now, is Bed Head Moisture Maniac). Then, I deep conditioned. I used a homemade conditioner recipe I found online at one of the many natural hair-care sites: 1 tablespoon honey, 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, 1 cup warm water. (This felt a little thin to me, but my hair does seem happy today. I might try either a bit less water or a bit more honey next time, though.) I poured all of that on and worked it through my hair, then put on a plastic cap and let it marinate for about 20 minutes before rinsing thoroughly (cold water on the last rinse). Then, I towel dried (I've heard I should use an old t-shirt instead, but haven't tried it yet) and combed through with detangler, which I made by combining 1 part conditioner (right now I've got Pantene Pro V Relaxed & Natural Intensive Conditioning, which I think is now called Pantene Pro V Relaxed and Natural Dry to Moisturized Conditioner) with 4 parts water in a spray bottle. Finally, I got to twisting. And twisting and twisting and twisting. I used a small amount of gel (1/4 tsp unflavored gelatin dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water. - I put it in the fridge to firm up, but it probably would have gotten there eventually at room temp.) on each twist and added more detangler as hair started to dry. I distracting myself from the tedium (and burning arm muscles) with Pushing Daisies  :)

I didn't twist the roots well enough to feel comfortable wearing the twists out and about - a lesson for next time. Given that, my original plan of wearing the twists for a few days before the twist out stage won't work. So, this morning, I put moisturizer (Hair Milk, old formula) on the still-twisted hair and I'll cover it with a hat today and see what sort of twist out results I get tonight. Fingers crossed. If it's cute, I'll wear it to karaoke.If not, I'll wear the hat and try again sometime (it's really tough on my neck, in addition to the arm fatigue, so not something I'd want to do often).

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


A couple of interesting articles on street harassment. This one was on Racialicious last Thursday. This one I just saw today.

True story: Last Friday night, a friend and I decided to get up off the couch and go out. At one point, as we walked from one bar to another, a man came up (too close) behind us and called out, among other things, that we smelled good. He then came around the side of us, the better to let us see that he was looking us up and down. When neither of us responded, his tone soured, and he informed us that we made a nice couple.

Because, obviously, if we don't react favorably to him, we *must* be lesbians. Which is, of course, an insult - thus the sneer in the delivery?

Obviously. How else to explain our lack of interest? It can't be because the staring, the following, and the insistence that we talk to you are all invasive, and it's certainly not that your commenting on how we smell is a particularly creepy type of uninvited intimacy - no, not showing appropriate gratitude for such attention obviously means that we're gay.


At least no one got shot.

It's a Hard Knock Life

Was listening to Annie yesterday, slipped into a daydream in which past and present colleagues did a full-on production number of "Hard Knock Life." It was kind of awesome.

Here's how the orphans did it in 1982.

Our version was low on child labor, but the cubicle layout in Sweet Hall made for some pretty sweet synchronized cartwheels.

Book review: The Invention of Hugo Cabret

The Invention of Hugo Cabret The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
My rating: 4 1/2 of 5 stars (View all my reviews)

A 3 1/2 star story in a 5 star book.

I'd call it a graphic novel for children, but that's not quite right. It's a children's book (not a novel), at what felt like the same reading level as the 1st in the Harry Potter series, and the story is told in a combination of text and narrative illustrations, by which I mean that the pictures (beautiful two page spreads with no dialogue) tell parts of the story, rather than simply accompanying it. The story told is, in my opinion, mediocre. It's not bad, but could have been better - there is something not-quite-right about the pacing, the main character never completely drew me in, and the big surprise concerning one of the characters seems rushed or just clumsily done.  But, the combination of the story and the form in which it is told elevates the material.

Check out the author's page for more information: the invention of Hugo Cabret.

Book review: How Fiction Works by James Wood

How Fiction Works How Fiction Works by James Wood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
View all my reviews

A well written book about writing (and reading), Wood offers a thoughtful discussion of not only at how fiction works, but why.

Most interestingly for my purposes, Wood has much to say about what I'll call the truthfulness of fiction, seen not in terms of "realism," (or at least not solely), but in terms of what he calls "lifeness." I'm annoyed by the word, but I like where he goes with it. I'll probably use this in my writing, as well as in the class I'm preparing. Lots of really interesting stuff - I'd recommend to any of you who write, and to any of you who like to think about writing and reading and why one might do either.

WARNING: This next section is a full-on tangent about stuff that relates to my dissertation.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

So close

So, I'm on the Caltrain, heading down to Palo Alto for a meeting about the class I'm going to teach next year. (Insert implied freak out here.) As is often the case, it was a mad dash out to the bus stop, but I made it in time today. Made the bus, made the T, made exactly the Caltrain I needed to make (whether said Caltrain will make its journey without incident remains to be seen, and I refrain from comment on that until the trip is done). So far, so good!

But as I ran down the stairs, I had the nagging feeling I was forgetting something. Something work-related? Let's see... I remembered my computer, my dissertation, my notes, a notebook, and a pen that works, all of which I'll be using for some prep. So I'm set there. I brought my coffee (and drank it without spilling it) and some lunch hadn't eaten yet today). Hm, set there. I have my phone, my iPod, my headphones, my keys, the check I need to deposit, my wallet... What else could I possibly have forgotten? My top is right-side-out, I've got contacts in, I combed my hair (each if these things has gone wrong at least once in my commuting history). I was in such a hurry that I threw my loafers on sans inserts to get down the stairs, but I was together enough to take the inserts out of the sneakers and put them into the briefcase, so it'all good! I'll just pop them in and throw on the socks I put in my...


It could be worse. At least I've got pants on.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Happy birthday, Charles!

Mom and Charles
(Sometime between late 1979 and early 1980?)

June, 1980

Me, Santa, Charles (and Superman)
November 1984 (No, really - it's labeled. Guess the mall Santas come out early?)

Senior picture (1997)

December 1999

Graduating from Georgia Tech in 2001

In London, 2002

Graduating from Georgia Tech again, 2005

Christmas, 2005
Top row: Charles, Me, G-Bert, Dad
2nd row: Charliese, Caleb, Chasah


At my 2nd graduation, 2008

Wearing a very handsome coat in 2009

Wearing very handsome reindeer ears last Christmas

(way back and not so way back)

Also celebrating a birthday today:

Johnny Depp

No, no, Johnny - Charles is turning 30!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Deathly Hallows trailer

They forgot to include the "part one" in the title. I'm still annoyed that they're splitting it into two movies.

"Pandemic in its implications."

TNC posted the following today, which I made the mistake of reading before I'd had my coffee:
Laura Spicer was sold away from her husband while they both were slaves. After the war and emancipation, the two considered reconciling, but the husband had remarried. Here is a letter to Spicer from her first husband[.]
You should read it. I'm pretty sure it's the most heartbreaking thing I've ever read. I don't know that there's anything for me to say about it, except that if my history classes had involved more of this, I might have paid more attention, and perhaps even retained more. TNC writes that "it's important to supplement a discussion of the concept of 'slavery,' with the words of humans who actually were enslaved. Never do this thing cold and sterile. Make it hot and alive, pandemic in its implications."

Pandemic in its implications.

*sigh* One day, I will casually write something that good.

Its implications were certainly contagious in the comments. In addition to the shared heartbreak, it sparked a conversation on the importance of primary sources, and of teaching history as real people, with real stories - actual human beings beneath the statistics, surveys, dates, and summaries. As an example of how powerful this can be, a few people brought up the holocaust museum in DC, and especially the room full of shoes. thatbgirl wrote:
that room with all the shoes, and then the photos of all the people from that one village who were killed that you see at the beginning and at the end... those were what broke me up inside more than anything else...
I went to the Holocaust museum once, back in 1993 or so. That was *cough17cough* years ago and, while I can no longer see the room of shoes in my mind, I can remember, vividly, how devastating it was, and the visceral sense of sadness and outrage it created. It is, in fact, the only thing I remember from the holocaust museum. Half a lifetime ago, and that room of shoes is what I think of every time I have reason to talk (or read, or listen) about The Holocaust. An entire room full of shoes, worn by real people, representing only a small fraction of the people killed. That's the history of The Holocaust to me.

What's this got to do with this letter? I would love to slip a copy of this letter into the history textbook of every child learning about American slavery and The Civil War. It's the perfect response to that states' rights bullshit. Because this is what those states' rights were really about - this letter, over and over and over. Hot and alive. Real and heartbreaking. If *this* is what you mean by Confederate History Month - learning that *this* is what the Confederates for fighting for the right to do - then I am all for it.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Was thinking this morning, while washing the dishes, of how bored I was reading the first chapter of my dissertation. The thoughts there aren't bad, it's just that, for the most part, I have no real interest in them anymore. This is not entirely shocking to me - once I've thought through something, it seems to me that it must be the most obvious thing in the world, and why on earth would I want to keep thinking about something so obvious and, therefore, boring? As a friend of mine put it, "It's like eating food you've already chewed." That's pretty much what it felt like yesterday, slogging through Chapter One.

This made me a little sad, but wasn't particularly traumatizing. More disturbing to me was the overwhelming feeling that I haven't had a real thought in about a decade. I don't actually think that's true, but it's how I've been feeling. That's what came clear to me as I was washing dishes this morning.

Then, as I stared at the suds, it hit me - the class I want to teach is all about heroism (potentially modified by "spiritual," even if only to make it sound like something that belongs in the RS dept.). Heroism is the link between the seemingly disparate things bouncing around in my head as interesting things to think about and potentially cool things to teach. I jotted that down, along with a couple of comparisons and dichotomies that sprang to mind as well, then went back to the dishes, still turning over this new thing - tasting it, trying it out. Am I interested in heroism? I think maybe I am. I think I have been for a while, but haven't really framed it that way. Or maybe I'm just creating that narrative now, because it seems more orderly and acceptable than, "Hey! I want to think about this, now!"

The organizing interpretive question (I like those a lot) is, of course, what on earth (or elsewhere, given the some of the sources), that means. Is (spiritual) heroism religious? How so, or how not? How do contemporary representations relate, or not, to more traditional (classical?) ones? What, if anything, do Benedetta, Anne Marie, Job, Buffy, The Man and The Boy have in common?

So, maybe not so thoughtless after all. Nothing particularly new or earth shattering, but something to chew on.