Friday, December 25, 2009

Good Riddance

I know I did a post with some year-end lists last year, but I really dislike year-end lists. I dislike decade-end lists even more.

2009 kind of sucked. A lot. There were lots of good things, but I'd rather not look back at them in a blog post in list format. A list of things I'm looking forward to in 2010 isn't much better than a year-end list, but here goes anyhow:

The Wolfman
Shutter Island
The Crazies
Toy Story 3

Contra - Vampire Weekend

Wow, is that it?
What else is there?

UPDATE: How could I forget!? Season 3 of Breaking Bad!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Silver Bells, Silver Screen

Some of my favorite Christmas movies, in no particular order:

Survive Style 5+

Die Hard


Bad Santa

Batman Returns


I'll Be Home for Christmas

And just for good measure, the alternate ending to It's A Wonderful Life

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Friends Forever, or until further notice

Of all the ridiculous and alarmist articles I've read about Facebook, this one is particularly upsetting. Writing for O, The Oprah Magazine, Tim Jarvis writes:

Increasingly, if you're not plugged into a social network, you feel out of the loop. But as scientists start to study our newfound connectivity, some worry that we're heading for a massive friender-bender.

"It can be exhilarating, at least at first, to connect with long-lost friends," says network science expert Steven Strogatz, Ph.D., a professor of applied mathematics at Cornell University.

But the downside, he worries, is growing confusion between our weak ties (people who might be useful in referring us to a good dentist or helping us find a job) and our strong ties (those we're very close to).

"The distinction between genuine friends and acquaintances is becoming blurred. Users are spending time maintaining relationships with people they don't really care about."

First of all, the dude is a professor of applied mathematics. 'Nough said.

But more importantly is this weak/strong tie distinction. Why is it so bad for the line between friends and acquaintances to become blurred? Right now, I don't have a whole lot of close friends in my area who I can hang out with. I'm out in the middle of suburbia. In order to connect to people I can either hop on the T for an hour or I can go online. On Facebook, if I comment on the post of someone who I haven't really seen in a long time, I don't consider it maintaining a relationship with someone I don't really care about. It isn't time wasted. Who knows who I might end up connecting with at a deeper level? What good would it do to burn those bridges?

The article then goes on to talk about how "Heavy reliance on the rapid intake of certain information -- especially in younger, developing minds -- could have consequences on our morality." Oh no! Think of the childrenz! The next generation is going to be completely unfeeling and immoral! So clearly the thing to do to avoid being unfeeling and immoral is to cut ties with people with whom we don't have "strong ties." Yes, mass un-friending is the key to future happiness.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Black, White, Yellow, etc.

This "Characters Unite" spot shows on the USA network during commercial breaks:

Can you guess what bothers me about it? I'll give you a hint: it's 0:12 seconds in.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

How to pick a Halloween costume (if you're a chick)

1. Decide what you want to be.
2. Make it sexy.


Here are some examples:

You want to be the great detective Sherlock Holmes:

Now, make it sexy!

Or if you want to be horror monster Freddy Krueger:

Just sex it up!

If you're not sure how risque you want to be, sometimes there's a range:


or Slutty:

As long as you're showing some leg and some cleavage, it doesn't really matter what you are.
Are you a sexy clown? Or sexy Wonder Bread?

Nobody really cares!

Of course, you might offend some prudish feminist-types if you sexualize something like a dead body:

or an infant:

But they just don't know how to have fun! Let's go egg their houses!

All images taken from elsewhere on the internet.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Why Film Studies Matters

I've been thinking about grad school. One of the "nice" things about graduating from college into a recession is that I have a lot of time to think about what I *really* want to do. There are lots of things I could do, lots of things I want to do. But after much thought, if I follow my passion I will go to grad school for film studies.

Although I was (am?) an English major, I mostly took film classes. I did the work I am most proud of in those classes. So why wasn't it readily apparent to me that I would want to continue my education in that field?

Well, it's not very practical. When I tell people I want to go to school for film, the response is usually along the lines of, "Oh, you want to make movies?" And then I explain that actually, no, I don't want to make movies. I want to watch movies, and read about movies, and write about movies. "You want to be a reviewer." No. I want to be a theorist. Theory, by definition, is not practical.

Going to grad school for film studies would prepare me for pretty much one career: academia. This was where my passion hit a snag. I didn't think I had any interest in being a professor. And what interest I did have was more about the perks (summer vacation!) than about a desire to teach. So why spend all that time and money studying film if it's not going to get me anywhere? Well, because I love it. But isn't that selfish? Is there any field more self-serving than film theory? Nobody gives a damn! It's all an academic circle-jerk. I want to do something with my life that matters.

But then, as I was trying to articulate my frustration with Zombieland to a friend, it hit me: studying film DOES matter. What I want to do isn't just analyze and write about film - I want to show people why it is important to do so. I want to teach. (It fits! Life makes sense!)

When I look at the body of work I've produced from my years in college, the issues that come to the fore are very real - how gender is codified on screen, what it means to look at a body, the visceral reactions people have to certain images. If you can't sleep at night because you're too spooked from watching El Orfanato, that's real. If you tear up just thinking about Jack Dawson sinking into the freezing Atlantic Ocean, that's real. If a director in Japan and a director in Germany both use horror-comedy to explore queer issues, teasing out why is no less important than unifying quantum mechanics and general relativity. It matters.

Now to put my theory of why I want to go to grad school into practice and go buy a study book for the GRE.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Zombieland wasn't that great.

There. I said it.

I love a good zom-com (that's short for Zombie Comedy), so I wasn't going to pass on seeing Zombieland. I should have.

[Disclaimer: possibler spoilage ahead.]

By my count, Zombieland is the first mainstream US zom-com to come out of the uptrend of zombie movies over the past decade. And it is indeed decidedly mainstream, ie., lackluster. Here are my issues:

- Lack of Conflict
"Zombies are a conflict!" you might say. And you'd be wrong. In any good zombie movie - whether horror or comedy or in between - the zombies are merely a catalyst. The real conflict is between the living. Zombieland didn't have any of that.

- Not That Funny
I can't remember a single good line. Looking through the memorable quotes on imdb, I'm unimpressed.

- Tallahassee
Woody Harrelson's character is problematic. And by that I mean that it's a half-assed characterization. They try and give him some back story and emotional weight, but it falls flat. If you want to see a real zombie-killing badass, take a gander at Guitar Wolf:

Now THAT's a badass.

- US-centric
The opening of the movie says that the United States of America has become the United States of Zombieland. During this voice over, the camera zooms out to show the whole globe. Um, what? If the whole earth is affected, why call it the United States of Zombieland? Why not Planet Zombie?

- Heteronormative
The happy ending is the formation of a nuclear family unit. Yawn.

- Genre Identity Crisis
Any good zom-com recognizes and plays with the conventions of the zombie movie genre. Zombieland recognizes them (to some extent) and doesn't do anything with them. Columbus' zombie survival rules are cute, but more of a nod to the parafilmic zombie fandom than to its predecessors. In terms of self-awareness, Zombieland scores some points for having Bill Murray as himself. But even that seemed out of place. The fact that the poster uses the critical acclaim that it is "the funniest movie since The Hangover" is disappointingly appropriate in that the type of humor was nonspecific to its genre.

I am disappointed in Zombieland. It could have been more, but I'm not surprised that it isn't.

For some *good* zom-coms, check out:
- Wild Zero (2000) - Japanese rock n' roll zombie movie
- Shaun of the Dead (2004) - British zom-rom-com (that's zombie romantic comedy)
- Dance of the Dead (2008) - Indie US teenage zombie movie
- Fido (2006) - Zombie movie meets Douglas Sirk

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Post College Blues

It is well documented that the class of 2009 graduated into one of the worst job market in decades. It sucks. It's tough.

But for me, the tireless job-searching isn't the hardest part of being a recent college graduate. The hardest part has nothing to do with the recession. The hardest part is the sudden loneliness.

I have been flung from my academic cocoon into life without a campus. I no longer have my college community of teachers and classmates. My friends are spread out across the country and abroad, each struggling to make their way in grad school, the working world, and other endeavors. Sure, I have a few friends here in Boston. I try to see them as much as possible. But it's too easy to feel disconnected.

A quick Google search for "post college depression" shows that this feeling is common, and not a new phenomenon. Indicators of this phase include inability to concentrate, feelings of worthlessness, excessive anxiety, loss of identity and lack of direction. Of course, the recession does have an effect. With so few prospects, recent grads have struggle more than previous years of graduates to stay positive.

So what's an unemployed 22-year old living at home to do? Well here's what I'm doing:

- Try to stay focused on my job search.
It's not easy, but I have confidence in my job hunt. I know that I have the skills and the qualities to land a great job. The fact that I'm unemployed is not a failure of my self.

- Get active.
Physical activity helps ameliorate anxiety. I signed up for a kickball team through the World Adult Kickball Association. I had my first game on Sunday. It was a blast.

- Create my space.
Living at home isn't all bad. I don't have to pay rent. But I need to make my own space under my mother's roof. That means cleaning my room. I'm working on it.

- Make friends.
This part is hard. I made some friends while temping at a bookstore. And joining the kickball team is as much for socializing as it is for physical activity - if not more so. I'm also trying to get in touch with old friends, as well as friends of friends.

- Take it easy.
I try not to stress myself out. I allow myself to watch TV for a few hours, even if I feel guilty about it.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Who let the dogs out?

Moving back home to live with my mom also means living with Brette, the two-year-old Jack Russell Terrier. Oh yes, she's adorable. But she's also a total brat. She barks viciously at the "other" dog in the mirror. She still poops on the kitchen floor from time to time. She has no grasp of the concept of "fetch."

Of course, I'm much more of a cat person. Cats take care of themselves, for the most part. You don't have to keep a cat entertained. Cats are - relatively - quieter. I like cats.

But what is it about puppies that makes them so damned heart-melting!? Check this out:

I know that YouTube is at least 25% videos of cute little animals, but doesn't this cute little puppy just make the muscles in your face go all weird? Is that just me? It never fails to make me feel all squishy.

Then there are sad puppies. The Turing Test may tell you whether you're dealing with a robot or a human, but the way to tell whether a being has a soul is whether it cries at the end of the book "Where the Red Fern Grows." Aw man, just looking at the cover of the book makes my eyes well up.

And don't tell me you don't change the channel when that Sarah McLachlan puppy commercial comes on. You would be lying. And you can try to make excuses about how long of a commercial it is, but we both know it's because it makes you get all teary. Don't be embarrassed. How could you not!? That commercial would make Cruella DeVille cry. And she loves to hurt puppies!

(P.S. Are the titles of my posts getting funnier/lamer or what?)

Friday, August 28, 2009

All the Single Ladies (Put Your Fists Up)

A couple days ago I got a letter inviting me to enter to be a contestant to participate in this year's Miss Massachusetts USA Pageant. Rather than just throwing it out right away, I opened it in hopes of some amusing blog fodder. I got something a lot more blog-provoking than I'd expected.

Here are the eligibility criteria:
If you are single (never married/never given birth to a child,) a United States citizen, a resident of the State of Massachusetts, and between the ages of 14 and 26
That first criterion is the one that interests me.

I can understand that they want contestants to be single - this is, after all, the Miss USA pageant, not the Mrs. USA pageant - never mind the Ms. USA pageant. But what is really interesting is how they define single-hood. In my mind, someone who is single is someone who is not in a committed relationship. But the Pageant defines a single person (assumed to be a woman) as someone who has never been married and never given birth to a child.

Let's start with the first part: "never married." That means that the contestant can be in an exclusive, committed relationship so long as there have been no wedding vows. "Never married" as opposed to "not married" excludes women who were married but are no longer married - whether due to divorce, annulment, or the death of a spouse.

The second part, "never given birth to a child," is the one that first caught my attention. What in the world does parturition have to do with relationship or marital status? "Never given birth to a child" excludes single mothers and women who have given birth but are not the child's primary caregiver - such as women who have given a child up for adoption or women whose children have died. (Women who have had abortions would seem to still be eligible, interestingly enough.)

So what does this all mean? It boils down to two things, which are unremittingly intertwined: availability and virginity. They can't very well explicitly state, "Women must never have had sex," so they go with the traditional patriarchal markers of lost maidenhood: marriage and babies.

The letter I received says that contestants will be judged in three categories - Personal Interview, Swimsuit, and Evening Gown. What it doesn't say is that to even become a contestant, one will be judged in two other categories - Sexual Availability and Conformity to Traditional Family Values.

I think I'll pass.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Going Gaga?

(Apologies for the title of this post; I couldn't resist.)

A few days ago Feministing called out Lady Gaga for some comments she made in a recent interview. (Disclaimer: I did not watch the interview.) From their transcription:
You see, if I was a guy, and I was sitting her with a cigarette in my hand, grabbing my crotch and talking about how I make music 'cause I love fast cars and fucking girls, you'd call me a rock star. But when I do it in my music and in my videos, because I'm a female, because I make pop music, you're judgmental, and you say that it is distracting. I'm just a rock star.

Are you also a feminist?

I'm not a feminist - I, I hail men, I love men.

Blogger Vanessa then writes, "Good on Gaga for making a feminist statement, but bad on her for not owning it as one." The way I read this, Vanessa mainly takes issue with Lady Gaga's refusal to identify as a feminist despite making a "feminist statement." To me, the more immediate problem is that Lady Gaga sets up feminism and loving men as mutually exclusive. Her logic would go something like this: Feminists hate men. Therefore, if you like men then you are not a feminist.

But what is more interesting to me than these two issues - not identifying as a feminist and stigmatizing feminists as man-haters - is the first part of the transcript that Feministing quotes. On the face of it, she is pointing out a double standard and advocating equality. I'm all for those things. But what she says reminds me of a quotation from Riot Grrl Queen-mother Kathleen Hanna:
What (some) bands do is go, 'It's not important that I'm a girl, it's just important that I want to rock.' And that's cool. But that's more of an assimilationist thing. It's like the 'just want to be allowed to join the world as it is'; whereas I'm more into revolution and radicalism and changing the whole structure. What I'm into is making the world different for me to live in.

This makes a lot of sense to me. Lady Gaga may be denouncing a societal double standard, but ultimately she is just upholding the status quo.

So rather than post the Lady Gaga interview, here's something a little more radical:

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

"Whatever you do, take care of your shoes"

I like high heels. I really do. I don't think they're (entirely) an instrument of patriarchal torture. I don't think they're "empowering," either.

But they have to be the right high heels. I would LOVE a pair of John Fluevogs, like the pair above. Alas, if only I had $225 to spend on a pair of shoes.

Then again, a good pair of shoes can be worth the dough. Today I speed-walked for several blocks downtoan in a pair of cheap black pumps from Target. Not a smart movie. I walked home from the T barefoot because my feet hurt too much. When I took the shoes off I found that my heels were bleeding and I had a nasty blister on my left pinkie toe. The corresponding blister on my right pinkie toe had already popped and the skin rubbed off. Ew. Perhaps if I can't afford some better shoes I should invest in a pair of these fold-up flats to stick in my purse.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Miscellaneous Movies

Some quick takes on movies I've watched in the past month and a half:

Los Cronocrimenes (Timecrimes, 2007)
This time-travel movie was pretty good, if not a little confusing. (Trailer)

Stardust (2007)
I remembered kind of wanting to see this when it was in theaters because of Michelle Pfeiffer. It was fabulous! (Trailer)

Lat den ratte komma in (Let the Right One In, 2008)
I'd seen this Swedish vampire love-story before. I can't find the right adjective for it, but it's very, very good. (Trailer)

Away We Go (2009)
I already blogged about this one, but I saw it again. I was less enthusiastic the second time around, though I laughed just as hard. (Trailer)

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
I never re-read the sixth book, so I didn't remember it enough to compare it with the movie. But I thought it was pretty entertaining. Way better than the fifth movie. (Trailer)

The Dark Crystal (1982)
Mad impressive puppets, yo. (Trailer)

Dod Sno (Dead Snow, 2009)
I'd been wanting to see this one since I first heard about it. It's a Norwegian movie about Nazi zombies (or zombie Nazis?). It lived up to my expectations quite well! (Trailer)

Bloody Mallory (2002)
I found this one on Hulu. It was friggin' awesome! Just read the description that accompanies the trailer. (Trailer)

Session 9 (2001)
Pretty slow moving and could have been a lot scarier. Some interesting editing choices. (Trailer)

Friday, July 31, 2009

Internet Ephemera, the Extended Mind, and the Death of the RSS Feed?

I am a Google Reader fiend.
I am subscribed to over 100 active feeds.
Every day when I wake up, I check my e-mail and then I check Google Reader. It usually takes me about half an hour to wade through everything.

Mostly I'm subscribed to blogs. I read blogs on topics like movies, feminism, Boston-interest, PR, cupcakes, sports, music, and technology. A handful of my friends have personal blogs which I read. I'm also subscribed to about a dozen webcomics. It's convenient to have them all show up in one place so I don't have to visit each website separately. The other major category of feeds that I'm subscribed to are updates - when the latest chapter of a manga or video series is released. Whenever possible, I like to direct all my daily or regular web content into Google Reader.

My weakness is what I call internet ephemera - blogs such as Photoshop Disasters, Ugly Overload, Sorry I Missed Your Party, Cake Wrecks, Overheard in New York, and Contrariwise - blogs that collect things. These are usually the first to be marked as read if I fall behind. I myself am a collector of things, a pack-rat. I don't throw out fortunes from fortune cookies - I keep them in a jar. (Maybe someday I'll do something with them, right?) I save ticket stubs from movies, concerts, and sports games. I have a box of programs from theater shows. I save all my graded papers. I am loath to throw anything away. It makes it very difficult to clean my room, I must add. But it's easy to see why I'm attracted to blogs like these. They don't add much to my day. I don't gain any information from them. At most, I get a chuckle out of them and move on. But I can't bring myself to unsubscribe!

It's the same sort of compulsion that drives me to bookmark sites on delicious. It's my collection of references and information. I don't have to remember the recipe for Andrew W.K.'s party pan-friers as long as I remember that it exists and that I have it bookmarked. (Tags: andrewwk snacks recipes) In the alt-text of an xkcd comic, Randall Munroe refers to "Wikipedia's role as brain-extension." That's how I feel about the entire internet sometimes - it's a repository of information. I don't have to store certain information in my memory because it's at the tip of my fingers. Carl Zimmer recognizes this in his article "How Google is Making Us Smarter." He writes:
The Internet and iPhones seem to be crashing the gate of the mind, taking over its natural work and leaving it to wither away to a mental stump. As plausible as this picture may seem, it does a bad job of explaining a lot of recent scientific research. In fact, the mind appears to be adapted for reaching out from our heads and making the world, including our machines, an extension of itself.

This concept of the extended mind was first raised in 1998, right around the time Google was born, by two philosophers, Andy Clark, now at the University of Edinburgh, and David Chalmers, now at the Australian National University. In the journal Analysis, they published a short essay called “The Extended Mind” in which they asked a simple question: “Where does the mind stop and the rest of the world begin?” Most people might answer, “At the skull.” But Clark and Chalmers set out to convince their readers that the mind is not simply the product of the neurons in our brains, locked away behind a wall of bone. Rather, they argued that the mind is something more: a system made up of the brain plus parts of its environment.
Inside our heads, instead of making a perfect replica of the world, we focus our attention on tiny snippets, darting our eyes from point to point. We extract only the information we need for whatever task is at hand, whether we’re sorting the laundry or climbing a mountain.

The extended mind theory doesn’t just change the way we think about the mind. It also changes how we judge what’s good and bad about today’s mind-altering technologies. There’s nothing unnatural about relying on the Internet—Google and all—for information. After all, we are constantly consulting the world around us like a kind of visual Wikipedia. Nor is there anything bad about our brains’ being altered by these new technologies, any more than there is something bad about a monkey’s brain changing as it learns how to play with a rake.

Neuroscientists will soon be able to offer fresh ways to enhance our brains, whether with drugs or with implants. To say that these are immoral because they defile our true selves—our isolated, distinct minds—is to ignore biology. Our minds already extend out into the environment, and the changes we make to the environment already alter our minds.

Pretty cool stuff.

But back to Google Reader. Lately, there has been a change taking place. The instrument of that change is Twitter. Now when I come across a new blog I want to follow (such as Insanewiches), I have a choice: I can subscribe to their RSS feed or I can follow them on Twitter. If I pick the former, I can view new posts in Google Reader as I do with all those other blogs I read. I can scroll through without reading if it doesn't interest me. If I pick the latter, their tweets will show up on my Twitter homepage announcing when they have a new post. I can choose whether to click the link or not.

The difference is in where I go for my information: Google Reader or Twitter. Of course, I could subscribe to the RSS feed of tweets - I did say that I like having all my web content in one place. But I'm curious as to the greater implications of such a choice. If Twitter truly is The Next Big Thing, and if it's here to stay - at least for a little while - then perhaps we'll see a move away from syndicated feeds in favor of the Twitter platform. But maybe this is not a case of VHS vs. Betamax: maybe they can coexist. RSS will stay strong among those who already use it and Twitter will offer an alternative for those who prefer to be updated in bite-sized chunks. Time will tell, I suppose.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


I really meant to post more entries about my various cupcake escapades. Yesterday for a friend's birthday I made my favorite batch yet: peanut butter & jelly cupcakes with a peanut butter butter-cream frosting. I used this recipe for the cake (using margarine instead of butter), and this recipe for the frosting. It was my first time making my own butter-cream frosting and I'm super pleased with how it turned out! Rather than injecting the cupcakes with jelly, though, I baked the jelly in, as this recipe does. The wells for the jelly were a little too close to the bottom, though.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Insurance, Adultification, Transportation

"And you may ask yourself
How do I work this?
And you may ask yourself
Where is that large automobile?
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful house!
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful wife!
- Talking Heads, Once in a Lifetime

A friend of mine posted this article on Facebook which says that "1 in 3 twentysomethings is without health insurance." Blame it on: The Recession. It's kind of scary. I'm still covered by my mom's health insurance plan, but I don't know for how long. (Note to self: Remember to ask Mom how long her insurance plan will cover me.) Pretty soon, I'll have to fend for myself. I haven't been concerning myself with benefits packages in my current job search. They're just that: benefits. To hell with health insurance packages if I find something I really want to do.

Thinking about health insurance gets me to thinking about how I'm entering the adult world, where I have to support myself. I had a job throughout college, so I'm used to supporting myself in terms of spending money. I know how to schedule my own dentist appointments. But there there are things I haven't had to deal with by myself: Paying rent, paying taxes. I'll have to pay my own bills for utilities, cable, internet, and phone service. (Cue "Bills, Bills, Bills" by Destiny's Child.) It's kind of scary, but kind of exciting.

And then there's the whole driving thing. I went on a road trip to Washington DC with some friends for the Fourth of July. On the way back, not 15 minutes away from our destination, the car started making weird noises. We pulled over. It seemed that there was a leak in the oil tank. My friend had bought his car used only nine days prior. His car insurance didn't cover roadside assistance. Long story short, he needs a new engine. His dealership, warranty company, and insurance company have been duking it out for three weeks about who should pay for the work the car needs done. It's a nightmare, and one that I am sooo glad I don't have to deal with.

I don't have a car. In fact, I don't know how to drive. I never even got my learner's permit. (I was supposed to go to the DMV on my sixteenth birthday, but my friends took me to the Museum of Science instead.) In Boston, I don't really need a car because I live within walking distance of a T stop on the Green Line. It is convenient, although somewhat limiting. I'm not looking at any jobs not accessible by public transportation, for instance.

I really should learn to drive, even if I wouldn't get a car. It would be a good thing to know how to do if I'm ever really in a bind. I feel bad that I can't help out on long distance road trips and that I'm out of the running for designated driver. And getting a license would mean that I wouldn't have to use my passport as ID at bars and clubs.

Or maybe I'll just wait for a consumer line of fuel-efficient flying cars.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

OK Computer

Alas, it seems that soon I will have to put my 4-5 year old Dell Latitude D610 out to pasture, which is a euphemism for taking it out back and shooting it. The old girl's in pain. Watching her try to load a program is agonizing for the both of us. I must ease her suffering.

So I need a new laptop. Here's what I'm looking for:

- A PC
I'm sure Macs are wonderful, but I've grown accustomed to PCs.

- Speedy multitasking abilities
I need a computer that can run Photoshop, Dreamweaver, iTunes, and 3 instances of Firefox with 12 tabs each all at once without throwing a hissy fit.

- Multimedia expertise
I will primarily be using the computer for accessing the interwebs, digital imaging, playing music, and watching and editing movies. I won't be using it much for gaming, but it should be able to run World of Warcraft smoothly in case I ever decide to make more friends online than I have in real life.

- Willing to travel
It doesn't have to be thin, but it should be lightweight. If I wanted it to stay on my desk, I'd get a desktop.

- >30GB hard drive
Size matters here.

- New computer smell
I'm not looking for used goods. I want longevity.

- <$2000
Preferably <$1500, but I'm willing to compromise for the right candidate.

- Benevolence
In case this new laptop becomes smarter than me (see end of previous post), I would like my ruler to be a benevolent machine. I'm no John Connor.

Any takers?

Image taken from

Monday, July 13, 2009

Planning ahead

One of the things I do when I'm in a new place is to assess the strengths and vulnerabilities of that place in the event of the inevitable zombie apocalypse.

The first task is to establish a sealed perimeter. The fewer doors and windows, the better. Block the doors with heavy furniture and seal up the windows. Are there any entrances that are not immediately obvious, such as a cellar door? Be sure to check.

Next, arm yourself. If you have guns, great. I don't usually frequent places with a stash of arms, but if they're there you should use them, by all means. Just remember that guns run out of ammo. And aim for the head, natch. In most cases, however, you won't have proper weapons. Find various improptu blunt objects around your safe zone: a baseball bat, an umbrella, a croquet mallet, a shower curtain pole, etc. Knives are no good; if you're close enough to use a knife, it's probably already too late for you.

Now that you're able to rest for the time being, get whatever information you can. If the internet still works, try to find out whether the outbreak is localized or global? If "zombies" is a trending topic on Twitter, see if there is help available. If "braaaaains" is a trending topic, then the zombies have learned to use Twitter and we're all doomed.

It's probably about time to start thinking about food. What supplies do you have? How long can you make them last? Can you grow an herb garden on the roof? If you're able to send a scout to the grocery store, don't leave the reusable shopping bag in the car.

The one thing that many people forget to do, and which is sure to get you killed if you don't, is to lose the ever-man-for-himself attitude. "Survival of the fittest" is void if the dead are moving. You absolutely MUST help out other survivors that you come across. But if someone is bitten, kill without prejudice.

So that's the general outline I follow. But today it occurred to me: What if it's not zombies? I am totally unprepared for, say, a robot uprising or an alien invasion. What's the game-plan then?

Well I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords.

ge swiped from Google image search

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Art fail

I was going to write about personal branding and Barthes' "Death of the Author." But then Heidegger, Derrida, and Kant came along and started to call me names and throw things at me. They're such bullies. So now I can't get my mind straightened out in order to wrap it around authorship and branding as I'd intended to.

I watched The Strangers last night. It wasn't very good. The whole thing was like the last reel of any good slasher - the killer's in the house! - but for a whole movie. Steven Tyler may be the Demon of Screamin', but Liv's just not cut out to be a Scream Queen.
Because it left us with such a bland aftertaste, we watched Scream. Damn. That movie gets better every time I see it.

Image of Edvard Munch's "The Scream" stolen from here.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Discretion and Disclosure

Last night I went out to a bar in Harvard Square with some friends from high school for trivia/karaoke night. Despite getting all the answers right in the first round, we came in last place. Oh well.
I rocked karaoke, though. A group of girls were cheering me on. I felt so loved.

I feel like I'm in a somewhat difficult position when it comes to blogging and other internet activities. How much about my personal life do I want on the internet?

If you google my name, this blog doesn't show up. My LinkedIn profile is the second search result. The rest of the results on the first page are not me. My Twitter page showed up until I removed my last name.

I have my Facebook privacy settings set up so that I do not show up in search engine results. I will show up in a search on Facebook, but only friends and members of my University network can access my profile. I try to pay attention to the privacy settings. There are certain people - some relatives, former campers of mine, colleagues - that can only view my limited profile. The Office of the Dean of Students put out a pamphlet called "Your Face on Facebook: Thinking Carefully, Posting Conscientiously" which encouraged responsible use of social networking sites, reminding students that faculty and future employers may be able to see what you post.

The bit about future employers is where the difficulty comes in for me. I'm always conscious of what shows up on my Facebook profile. There are pictures tagged of me holding a drink - whether in a martini glass at a club or in a ubiquitous red plastic cup - but they're all in good taste. Besides, I'm 22; I'm allowed to drink. You often hear that employers want to hire someone they would have a drink with. If I were really nervous about what potential employers might think of me based on my Facebook profile, I could up my privacy settings. But if I'm going to be working with social media, potential employers need to be able to see that I'm familiar with Facebook and that I use it well. I try to keep a balance between personal and professional. I do not think I will get a vanity url when that option goes live on Saturday. I do not use Facebook in such a way that it would be useful to be able to direct people right to my profile.

For the sake of my job search, I feel that I need to solidify my personal brand. If potential employers search for me on Facebook, yes, I'd like to use it to sell myself. But to what extent? And at what cost to my social life? I use Facebook primarily as a social tool. If I keep it too polished, it won't be of any value.

And then there's this blog. I usually don't share personal details. My first blog - the LiveJournal I had in high school - was all personal. It was a diary that I kept on the web instead of under my pillow. This blog is a little more public. It is attached to the e-mail address I use for both personal and professional correspondence. But when I blog about certain topics - feminism, for example - I like to relate what I'm saying to my own life experiences. In those circumstances, where sincerity matters, I feel confident that I can divulge a little bit more. It's not gratuitous, not gossipy.

Perhaps I will put my last name back onto my Twitter profile. I don't have anything to hide.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Spice Girls vs. Special Relativity

I couldn't sleep last night. While tossing and turning in bed, I had a realization. Please note the lyrics I have bolded in the first two verses of "Wannabe" by the Spice Girls:
If you want my future forget my past,
If you wanna get with me better make it fast,
Now don't go wasting my precious time,
Get your act together we could be just fine
What do you think about that now you know how I feel,
Say you can handle my love are you for real,
I won't be hasty, I'll give you a try
If you really bug me then I'll say goodbye.
What's going on here, girls?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Tweet Tweet

Martha Stewart follows Snoop Dogg, apparently.

Yes, this is a post about Twitter.
I've been on Twitter for just over two months.
At first, I signed up for Twitter to use it similarly to the way I used MySpace, as a consumer of content, a spectator. I used MySpace to get updates from bands I liked. I figured I would follow a few choice people on Twitter, but I didn't think I had much to add myself.

In a recent post, Brian Solis of the blog PR 2.0 asked "Is Twitter a Conversation or Broadcast Platform?" The statistics he puts forward suggest that most Twitter users are spectators. 1/4 of users aren't following anybody, and more than 1/3 of users haven't uttered a single tweet. My guess is that many people are driven to the site out of a curiosity that the MSM's preoccupation with Twitter has instilled. Flipping through Us Weekly in the bathroom, I saw a page that compared different celebrities' Twitter styles. So readers of Us Weekly, as well as viewers of CNN, want in. They sign up. They don't know what to do next. They abandon it and become statistics. I too abandoned Twitter.

The next stage in my personal Twitter story was that of broadcaster. I started a new account to tweet my random food cravings: tater tots, chicken salad with craisins and walnuts, meatballs, sweet potato casserole, etc. My friends are all familiar with these cravings I get. And Twitter seemed like a better platform than texting my friends "I want cinnamon sugar pita chips" at 11pm. Around this time, I also started to follow people I know rather than just celebrities, brands, and services. Along with my food craving tweets, I occasionally responded to my friends' tweets.

Then came #lofnotc
On Friday, May 15th Amanda Palmer tweeted:
@amandapalmer i hereby call THE LOSERS OF FRIDAY NIGHT ON THEIR COMPUTERS to ORDER, motherfucker.
I re-tweeted it - the first time I re-tweeted anything. Not even ten minutes later:

@amandapalmer holy shit…judging from replies there’s like 200 of us in the LOFNOTC. what has become of rock n roll? what is wrong with us? i feel shame.
200 soon became 500. People starting using the hashtag #lofnotc so that all our posts would go to one place. #lofnotc soon became a trending topic. People who didn't even know who Amanda Palmer is began to join in. The search results page for #lofnotc began to resemble a chatroom. Amanda designed a t-shirt. We plotted a government takeover. We had a toast.

@amandapalmer i present to you....our official logo, comrades!!!!!!! (yes, that thing on the right is a pizza.) #LOFNOTC

Amanda blogged:
so anyway, there we were, on twitter on a friday night.

we hung out for two hours, came up with a list of things that the government should do for us, created a t-shirt (thank god sean was awake and being a loser with me because he throw up the webpage WHILE we were having our twitter party and people started ordering the shirts - that i designed in SHARPIE in realtime) and a slogan: “DON’T STAND UP FOR WHAT’S RIGHT, STAY IN FOR WHAT’S WRONG” (thanks emilyn brodsky).

and basically had a real-time party on the fucking internet. we ended with a long toast to the power of friday night loserdom and drank virtual wine togehter (well, i know MY wine was real. and tasty).
THAT, my friends, is the "collaborative, two-way meaningful dialogue that represents Twitter's greatest promise" that Brian Solis is waiting for.

Amanda Palmer is an inspiration to me in many respects. For the purposes of this post, she is my Twitter Hero. She had been harnessing the power of Twitter long before #lofnotc. She uses it for instant ticket giveaways and organizing impromptu soccer games and pillow-fights on the road. She does Q&A sessions with fans while she's bored on the tour bus. She takes songs requests via Twitter - onstage. Of one surprise gathering she writes,
i twittered some random flashmob-come-say-hi gatherings in australia and was overwhelmed to see that it WORKED.
i would pick out random places on a map nearby and twitter the night before.

i was at a point in auckland when i was just at the end of my rope, barely holding it together and i twittered the night before the show for people to meet me in front of the spiegeltent at 3 the next day.
(i also did this because the shows were not booked as all ages and i was getting heaps of sad emails, so i figured i would give people a chance to at least come and say hi and see me attempt to play the ukulele and get shit signed).
anyway: 10 pm twitter, and by 3 pm the next day, i walked over from my hotel with my ukulele case and was fucking shocked to see a group of over a hundred people.
a little teenage girl who spotted me first ran over and dive-bombed me. i let her. and then a bunch of people ran over and sat down and i just burst into tears. i couldn’t believe how simple it was.
all i had to do was ask, and all these people came, and it was so simple.
But for all its ability to bring people together, it can seem awfully atomizing. I think many people have the love/hate relationship with Twitter that Amanda expresses:
twitter hurts me. but i love it, but i hate it. i am always afraid of running into a human experience-camera-machine.
but it’s so fun. and awful. torn, torn, torn.
we’re all going to die anyway.
In a recent article in the Boston Globe IT professor Tom Davenport is quoted as saying, "As a professor there's a certain 'Decline of the West' aspect to the Twitter idea that you can say anything meaningful in 140 characters." Has this guy ever heard of Hemingway? And one particularly alarmist article from reports:
Rapid-fire TV news bulletins or getting updates via social-networking tools such as Twitter could numb our sense of morality and make us indifferent to human suffering, scientists say.

New findings show that the streams of information provided by social networking sites are too fast for the brain's "moral compass" to process and could harm young people's emotional development.

Before the brain can fully digest the anguish and suffering of a story, it is being bombarded by the next news bulletin or the latest Twitter update, according to a University of Southern California study.

"If things are happening too fast, you may not ever fully experience emotions about other people's psychological states and that would have implications for your morality," said researcher Mary Helen Immordino-Yang.

I don't really buy it that Twitter is hindering our ability for compassion. As I write this, two trending topics on Twitter are "Euna Lee" and "Laura Ling." Aside from sex-tape-spam, the tweets are all outcry, prayers, and petitions for the US journalists sentenced to 12 years of hard labor in North Korea.

So that's my post on Twitter. Take it or leave it.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Old news

Today while cleaning my room I found a copy of the Boston Metro from October 31 - November 2, 2003. The front page headline is: "Jobs outlook bleak" and the subheading is "Unemployment duration among worst in country"
BOSTON. The more than 1 in 9 Massachusetts residents who are either unemployed, underemployed or no longer actively looking for work face the fourth highest average duration of unemployment, according to new research by Northeastern University that claims the state is failing to recover from the recession.
Comparing 2000 and 2003 statistics, researchers found unemployment during the first seven months of 2003 increased 140 percent.

At the end of the article there is a little teaser "National economy soars p/24." So I turned to page 24. The headline: "Economy at best pace since '84"
The economy rocketed ahead at its fastest pace in more than 19 years in the third quarter of 2003 as consumers, their wallets fattened by tax cuts, went on a buying spree, an unexpectedly strong government report showed on Thursday.

I also found what appears to be a list of daily accomplishments. Some highlights:
- I played well in Hockey
- I got a good score on my Math Journal
- I got an A- on my LA quiz
- I won in Scrabble
- I handed in a science extension
- I handled a lamb heart

- I stayed up all night

- I got a 90 on my Tanach quiz
- I did my Math homework ahead of time
- I was nominated as "excellent" in reading comprehension by my class
- I walked with Sandy for 1/2 an hour
- I wore my headgear
Cleaning my room is more like an archeology dig than anything else.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Away We Go (2009) is awesome! Here's why.

I just got back from a free sneak peek of Sam Mendes' Away We Go, which is to be released later this month. All I knew about it was that Dave Eggers was involved and that John Krasinski was in it. But hey, it was free.

I was blown away. I think I liked it more than American Beauty. (Although I should note that I saw American Beauty years after it was released, and saw Away We Go before it was released. The hype around American Beauty may have lessened its impact on me.)

This post may include "spoilers," but they wouldn't actually spoil your viewing experience.

The movie is about a couple in their early thirties that gets pregnant. They visit friends in a few different cities, trying to decide where to settle down.

From the opening scene I had a good feeling that this would be a feminist-friendly film. I was not disappointed.

The protagonists, Bert and Verona, played by John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph, look like real people. In fact, all the characters look like real people - and the cast is quite impressive, I might add.

And finally, a film that obeys The Rule!

I'm actually realizing that I'm a little too tired and scatterbrained to write coherently right now, but I want to get this down. The movie is hilarious and touching. It really is wonderful.

What I like most about the film is that from beginning to end, Bert and Verona are in love. Like all of the families in the movie, their relationship isn't perfect. But they love each other. One of biggest problems with romantic comedies is there is always some Conflict: things start out smoothly, The Conflict comes along, the couple fights or breaks up, there is A Resolution, and they get back together, the way it should be. But that's not how relationships work!! There is no epic battle to win a person's heart. You get to know somebody over time.

Maybe tomorrow I'll write more about the film. Now, sleep.


I want an apartment. I really, really want my own apartment. I want to move in and settle.

I've been working on cleaning my room. I'm a pack-rat, and my room hasn't been cleaned up in ages. I'm finding all sorts of things - newspaper clippings and ticket stubs, mementos and souvenirs. I don't have anywhere to put all of my photos. I don't have enough space for my books. I haven't unpacked my clothes from school yet because I don't have anywhere to put them.

I want to move into an empty apartment and start from scratch. I want to find a place for all my things. I want all my knick-knacks to have homes. I want to decorate a new living space.

But first I need a job, so I can pay rent. I'm working on it.
Moreover, I *want* a job. I want my potential energy to become kinetic.

I also want this skirt.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Thoughts on Star Trek (2009)

I finally saw Star Trek last night. I'd never seen a Star Trek movie before, and have only seen a couple episodes of one of the TV shows. Most of my prior Star Trek knowledge came from recognizing references to it in The Simpsons, Futurama, Can't Hardly Wait, xkcd, etc. Here are my thoughts.

- In the event of a Romulan attack, I don't think it should be necessary for Star Fleet crew to stand at attention whenever the captain walks by. I think they should keep doing whatever the hell it is they need to be doing.

- The average shot length, towards the climax at the end, was probably about 2 seconds.

- About halfway through I realized that the actor who plays Uhura was Anamaria in Pirates of the Caribbean. I liked her better as Anamaria.

- Speaking of Uhura, this movie fails the Bechdel-Wallace Test with flying colors. The movie pays lip service to equality at the end, making a point to say "To boldly go where no one has gone before" instead of "no man." But why talk the talk if they ain't gonna walk the walk?

- Who knew that Hoth was really just Delta Vega?

- Simon Pegg rules. There needed to be way more of Scotty. I also liked his little walking cabbage sidekick.

- My other favorites were Bones and Chekov.

- The clever thing about the time travel plot device is that it allows J.J. Abrams some leeway - if it's an alternate reality, he can stray from the canon. But even so, having Kirk born in space strips Riverside, Iowa of its claim to fame.

- There was not nearly enough pandering to K/S slash fiction writers. I demand more fan service, dammit!

- I am soooo glad I was an English major. They don't shoot English majors off into space before we even graduate.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Why I will be proud to have been a member of the Class of 2009

I graduated from the University of Rochester a couple weeks ago. One of my favorite moments of the commencement ceremony was when President Seligman, addressing the class, said, "And I am sure you will all find jobs" and everybody laughed. He didn't mean for it to be funny.

A feature story in this month's Boston Magazine calls us "Generation WTF* *As in, 'My time to join the real world had to come /now?/ What. The. F#@&?!?!'" We are "the cursed Class of '09."

In a Boston Globe article that ran on January 28th of this year, headlined "Who will hire the Class of 2009?," Christine Bolzan wrote, "There's no question that the Class of 2009 faces one of the most challenging job markets in decades." And it's true - NONE of my friends have found jobs. (Granted, I don't have *that* many friends, but that's not the point.) Even the engineers are having trouble.

But I don't know how much I buy the hype. I know that I will find a job. I am smart and talented. I am qualified for an entry-level position at any of the firms I'm applying to - even if they're not actually hiring. I can't use "It's the recession" as an excuse.

One positive thing about the impossibility of trying to find a job now is that I'm not alone in it. I don't feel like a loser for moving in with my mom. Everyone else is in the same boat - or childhood bedroom, as the case may be. In addition, the adults in my life are all eager to help me out. They are sympathetic to the situation and want to help me succeed.

The recession will get better, eventually. But economic hardships are sure to return in my lifetime. And when they do, I, a member of the Class of 2009, will know that I will be able to thrive regardless.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Welcome to the

I saw the first episode of Joss Whedon's "Dollhouse" when it premiered. I wasn't impressed. But then I happened to catch the last episode of the season a few weeks ago. It was damn good. So I've been catching up on all the episodes in between. I may do a more developed entry about the show at some point, but for now I have this to say:

Tahmoh Penikett is great as FBI Agent Ballard. But I can't help but feel like the role was written for Nathan Fillion. Hm.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Three of the Most Romantic Songs Ever, according to me

1. "Closer" by Nine Inch Nails
Nine Inch Nails - Closer
Found at

2. "Kiss From a Rose" by Seal
Seal - Kiss From A Rose
Found at

3. "The Purple Bottle" by Animal Collective
Animal Collective - The Purple Bottle
Found at

Honorable mention goes to:
"Daughters" by John Mayer
John Mayer - Daughters
Found at

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Thing (1982)

In horror movies it's generally not a good idea to split up when there's a monster/killer on the loose. I understand that sometimes a group of characters doesn't realize this and feels that they can cover more ground or whatever by not staying together.

But if the monster can only attack when it's alone with the victim, why in BLOG'S NAME would you go ANYWHERE by yourself!?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

What I've Been Doing

Recent videos I have favorited (that's a word, right?) on YouTube:
1. Ukrainian Polka band covers Katy Perry
2. "You Gotta Believe" Ghostwriter music video
3. "Drop Me" by Amanda Palmer
4. "Shut Me Up" by MSI
5. Adorable snoring duckling

Four latest items I starred on Google Reader:
1. Top 10 Must-Have Firefox Extensions @Lifehacker
2. She's Baaaaaack! @The Official Early2Bed Blog
3. Make your own mini-urban garden with DIY Veggiepatch @BoingBoing Gadgets
4. One Word for the new THIRST Trailer: Brilliant @Twitch

Last three alcoholic beverages I consumed:
1. Half a bottle of Tisdale white zinfandel
2. A shot of potato vodka
3. A couple swigs of raspberry rum

Last two movies I watched:
1. Fried Dragon Fish
2. The Uncanny

What I'm about to go do:
1. Contra Dance!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Spring Break is coming soon.

Toothpaste For Dinner

A couple weeks ago my mind checked out from college a few months in advance of my graduation.
This morning I realized that it checked out to a really bad place - the real world - where there are things like hiring freezes, unemployment, and living with my mom.

I have a paper due tomorrow that I haven't started yet. If I fail this class, I won't be able to graduate and I'll be able to stay in college. Except I'll be even deeper in debt when I eventually do graduate. So I guess I have to write this paper. Damn.

Married To The Sea

Saturday, February 21, 2009

X marks the box in the hole in your head

The weather's kinda lousy today
So what oh what oh what'll we play?
- "Guitar Hero" by Amanda Palmer

My family's first video game system was a Sega Genesis. Man, we looooved that Sega Genesis! (Still do!) My siblings and I spent countless hours playing Sonic the Hedgehog 2. We also played a whole lot of Sonic the Hedgehog 3, but we, like everyone else in the world, got stuck on that godawful barrel in Carnival Night, and lost interest. We also had Vectorman, Madden '9something, a Toy Story game, and some stupid Kirby game where he kept slipping on a skateboard and dying in the first minute of the game.

When we upgraded to N64, it was a big deal. We got it as a Chanukah present, and it stands out in my mind as the most excited I'd ever been for any Chanukah present ever. (Though not quite as excited as N64 kid.) Our first three games were Goldeneye, Ocarina of Time, and Buck Bumble. Goldeneye is still my favorite FPS (though I haven't played all that many.) Despite having the Ocarina of Time guidebook, my brother and I got stuck in the water temple. I think we used a key in the wrong place or something. Buck Bumble was about a bumblebee with sunglasses and guns who flew around shooting evil mutant bugs in the garden. It would have been pretty unremarkable were it not for the kickass theme song. We got a whole bunch of other N64 games as time went on, mostly my brother's sports games, I think. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater stands out because it had an awesome soundtrack. Alas, N64's biggest weakness, in my eyes, was that it had no Sonic games.

Enter the Gamecube. The Gamecube was (is!) an awesome little system. My favorite Gamecube game is Sonic Adventure 2. I love it. I would only embarass myself to go into detail about how much I love it. I also have Sonic Adventure DX, Sonic Mega Collection, and Sonic Heroes. Those were pretty much the only games I ever played on the Gamecube, though, again, my brother had more.

Then came the Wii. I bought myself a Wii two years ago. It was the first gaming system that was mine. The main reason I bought it was because of this video. I think it's hilarious, what can I say? I started off with Wii Sports (of course) and Twilight Princess. I bought Sonic and the Secret Rings, and was sorely disappointed. But I didn't give up on Sonic and bought Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games. It's more fun watching people play that game than it is to play it. I got Wii Play for the extra wiimote. I also bought the port of RE4. Disaster struck at the end of last spring semester, when my wiimotes, charger, carrying case, and RE4 were stolen right out of my dorm. I still haven't replaced everything that was stolen. My next Wii acquisition was Smash Brothers Brawl. Now THAT is what I call a video game! (Sonic is my character of choice, naturally). Unfortunately, I kind of suck at it. My friend stopped playing it with me because it got too boring for him.

Then there was a lull. The video games I wanted (Left 4 Dead, Mirror's Edge) weren't for the Wii. Was the Wii's accessability, the very thing that made it so popular, also it's biggest drawback? My Wii sat mostly unused. Until last week.

As a birthday present for myself, I bought House of the Dead: Overkill and the Nyko Perfect Shot gun attachment. This. Game. Is. Awesome! It's a rail-shooter - like the arcade game. The graphics are really neat, as is the whole grindhouse motif they got goin'. It's totally over the top. I've had it for less than a week, but it looks like it will have plenty of replay value. And best of all? It's kind of easy. I like games that I can beat. In Overkill, the challenge isn't in getting through the game as much as it is in achieving certain goals - high accuracy rate, long combos, collecting all the golden brains, etc.

The Perfect Shot gun I got was defective, but Amazon sent me a replacement the next day. It's a little big for my hands, but I like it a lot.

It looks like there are a bunch of games coming up for the Wii that should appeal to a more adult gaming set, such as Mad World and Dead Rising.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Skincare takes smarts!!

Sarah Haskins' latest installment of Target: Women is relevant to my latest post! Hurrah!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

So Vain

I just managed to spend about $50.00 at CVS even though they didn't have what I went there for.
I hate going down the aisles at places like that because it makes me feel like there's so much I should be doing to make myself look better - all these creams and serums and whatnot. I did need some anti-frizz stuff. But not only are there about a dozen different brands of hair products, each brand has two or three variations on each line of anti-frizz products in order to take up more shelf space. And even though I know that there isn't any significant difference between them, I'll still spend some minutes debating which product to buy.

While I was in the store, Carly Simon's "You're So Vain" was playing. The chorus, "You're so vain, I'll bet you think this song is about you" is mind-boggling to me. Is it about that person or not? It's a paradox!!

Did I mention that I woke up before 7am today? Yeah.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Derrida? More like Derri-duh!

I just finished the Derrida reading that I was assigned to read for tomorrow. I started Monday. I read 30 pages every day. I rapped the last four pages aloud to myself. Here is a list of the words I had to look up:

Spell check does not recognize most of them.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Attack of the Facebook!

Recently, some hackers stole the personal information of a few hundred students at my school through a university database. A few days ago, while I was eating lunch, a TV news crew came by and interviewed me about the theft. I told them I had a friend whose identity was stolen. After the interview (Yes, I was on TV that night. No, I'm not posting a link), I sent this friend a message on Facebook to give him a head's up. Apparently, the reporter also contacted him via Facebook. My friend wrote to me, "Don't you find it odd that reporters are now using facebook as a means to uncover their stories????" Weird, right?

Oh, Facebook. The staff writers at the Boston Globe love to write about Facebook, and how it's changing our lives.
"Facebook broke my heart" is the headline of this November 25, 2008 article about how Facebook affects relationships and cheating.
This article from November 30, 2008 is all about the 35+ crowd and Facebook as "a never-ending high school reunion."
That article is not to be confused with this one, from November 29th, 2008 (also found here with a slightly different headline, for some reason), about how Facebook will render high-school reunions obsolete.
There's this article from December 14, 2008 about how students and universities are using Facebook in the college admissions process.
And most recently, on January 11th, an article about how the police are increasingly using Facebook to track down suspects and witnesses.
There was also a recent one (more recent than this one) about Facebook and boss/employee relations.

It's not just the Globe that finds Facebook to be such fascinating news fodder - just do a Google news search and you'll find all sorts of fluff pieces about Facebook.

Facebook can be very useful for keeping in touch with friends, sharing information, and spreading awareness about events and such. But it can also be a black hole.

In other, completely unrelated, news, I've been listening to a lot of female-fronted '90s punk/rock/ska: Letters to Cleo, Save Ferris, and No Doubt, mostly. Good shit.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Who needs love when there's Law & Order?

Law & Order is my TV vice.
Yesterday I realized that it is also my brand of soap opera.
"Law & Order? A soap opera?" You ask incredulously.

I know, it seems like L&O doesn't have much in common with ubiquitous daytime TV fare such as The Bold & The Beautiful, Days of Our Lives, or All My Children. Yes, the structures and formulae are different. Soap operas are serialized - each episode picks up where the last left off. L&O is episodic - each episode is a self-contained story. (L&O does have serial strands from time to time, such as the storyline around Olivia's mother in SVU, but is by and large episodic.)

The most obvious difference, of course, seems to be one of genre. Soap operas deal in complicated romances and family secrets. Law & Order is a hybrid of crime and courtroom dramas. Both, however, are melodramas. In her essay "Melodrama Revisted," Linda Williams argues that melodrama is not a proper genre, but a trans-generic mode. The melodramatic mode, whether as it is manifest in a 1940s' Douglas Sirk pic or in Sylvester Stallone's Rambo, is largely about morality and righteous suffering. Law & Order has both of those themes in common with soap operas.

The settings of Law & Order and soap operas are also vastly different. Soap operas are set in the domestic sphere; L&O is set in the public sphere - whether the urban space of the streets of NYC or government buildings such as the police station and the courtroom. But in both instances the setting is very important. The details of the mise en scene form a shorthand for viewers. These shorthands work across series (in the case of the soap opera) and spinoffs (in the case of L&O). Props, and costumes give us familiar character types - the oily boyfriend and the scheming mother, the edgy cop and the virtuous ADA.

Formal and structural techniques are very similar between soap operas and Law & Order. Intense dialogue-driven scenes are shot with shot-reverse shot close-ups of expressive faces. Dramatic music comes in at crucial moments in both, driving up the tension.

Finally, the way the two are shown on TV are pretty similar: they're both always on.

To close, I leave you with this video of Amanda Palmer's "Leeds United," the source of this post's title: