Monday, April 27, 2009

Attacking the limes, serenading the limes

Lester has developed an interest in limes. I don't know if he just likes the sound of the plastic bag, or the color of the limes or if it's something else. Anyway, he likes to attack the bag of limes for a while, and then when he calms down he sings to them.

Lester attacks the limes:


And then serenades them:



Saturday, April 25, 2009

In fact, it's colder here than NY, DC, and most of Ohio

I grilled a pizza (with leeks, sage, wild mushrooms and fontina). It worked reasonably well, but the dough was too puffy. And sticky. I'm used to focaccia dough being difficult to handle, but not pizza dough.

I am a zombie after the last three weeks.

Mark and I are going to Paris this summer. Terminal Humming will be out soon--I'm sending final files to Rod tomorrow. It's been a good spring.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Hark, hark, the dogs do bark

But the caravan moves on.

Or else, the week just does.

Or else, time. Etc.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I suck at data entry


Today I enjoyed eating the oatmeal in the cafeteria--its shockingly good. The only good thing in the entire cafeteria. I did not enjoy grading. I'm much better at grading assignments that I actually created. Grading assignments that I would never, ever in my left or right mind create is frustrating and irritating.

A friend who is studying Sociology said that online teaching is the new ghetto for women in academia. She said this not because she was being judgmental, but because she'd attended some kind of a lecture or read an article about it. Anyway, it sounds about right to me. Online teaching is almost like data entry. Don't Hardt and Negri say something about data entry workers being the new proletariat, or something like that, in Empire? Teaching as data entry! Data entry sabotage!

I suck at data entry. I don't ever post the right percentage of comments. Sometimes I post too early or too late. I probably blab on and on in my feedback. However, I do manage to connect with some of my students, and some of my students manage to improve their writing skills. And the pay at the schools where I've settled is pretty good. It's comparable to what I made adjuncting in normal on-ground classes in DC. However, it's certainly not nearly as much as what I make adjuncting an on-ground class in California. Schools pay adjuncts at lot more out here.

Today I also enjoyed practicing yoga with my eyes closed. I've done sun salutations with my eyes closed, but never a full practice. I did a very nice headstand for six breaths and then fell over. I'm almost never physically afraid of anything in yoga, though I am probably afraid of looking like an idiot. I don't mind if I hurt my butt (or whatever) when I fall, I just want to look amazing doing it. I have no idea how I looked. But c'etait bon to not know.


Also, today in class I taught my students the word "swollen," because one of them is having trouble with allergies, and hence has a swollen eye. The French word for swollen is gonflé. I had a weird memory of a french advertisement for a kind of cake: "Vahiné c'est gonflé!" The last time I had thought of this was when I was living in Guangzhou and going to the French school. I believe that one of the boys decided to call the other girl in my class Vahiné, which was, of course, an insult. At the time, I was just glad that they weren't calling me Vahiné, and happy that I actually got the context of the insult.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

List

  • Back to teaching ESL in the AM, which I prefer.
  • Back to getting out of bed early, which I don't prefer.
  • Terminal Humming is this close to going to print!
  • I cleaned my study.
  • I am nearly back to normal and not sick any more. What was that, anyway?
  • I ordered heirloom Lima beans from Rancho Gordo.
  • Michelle is making me a 33" travel hoop with 1/2 inch 125 psi tubing (ooh, hoop gear talk). It will be packable, light, fast and bouncy!
  • Colin Smith is coming to visit soon!
  • Mark and I did laundry today. I have not folded or put away my clothes.
  • I have hundreds of papers to grade by tomorrow.
  • It's overcast and kind of cold, for here, but a santa anna is supposed to come in tomorrow.
  • I have a timely interest in spring onions. They are good grilled, roasted, etc, etc.

Monday, April 06, 2009

I Don't Like Mulholland Drive (the Film)

"Wait, you're telling me I went through all that mental anguish over a dream? What a cheat!"
-- Darkwing Duck, "Dead Duck"

Mark and I recently watched Brazil, a film I hadn't seen since high school. It was pretty awesome, but the end irritates me. It turns out that, gosh, Sam Lowry has been dreaming his happy, idyllic flight out of the city with Jill, and in fact he's perhaps been hallucinating/dreaming since the moment of his rescue. None of it's true, he's really just gone insane during his torture. I know that there are many examples of this particular trope, but at the time I couldn't help but think of the finale of Newhart, when Bob wakes up and we learn that the entire season has been a dream.

Watching Brazil made me think about Mulholland Drive, a film that I come close to loathing. Perhaps I'd loathe it less if I didn't love Lynch's other films so much, or if friends I love and respect didn't always talk about how great the visuals and non-linear elements of the film are. In general, I appreciate the whole broken dreams in Hollywood thing, and I like convoluted fantasies that conflate/confuse self-image with love object, desire is always a good theme, and I have no problem with a non-linear or non-narrative structure. But but....

I know that Lynch likes to work with cliches, dreamy surrealist fantasies, and dreamy surrealist visuals which ask viewers to try and decide for themselves the relationship between fantasy and reality. However, the relationship between fantasy and reality had better be interesting. Ultimately, I think that's what irritates me so much about the film. When the film really gets nonlinear and the line between fantasy and reality becomes even more porous, the film, for me, becomes boring and rather vapid, not fascinating. I know I'm being subjective, but the characters' fantasy structures are dull.

In fact, from the moment Betty and Rita take off their shirts, Mulholland Drive feels like a postmodern cliche. After a really hot sex scene, Rita puts on a blond wig that makes her look a lot like Betty (hint hint, Lynch may be saying something about identity and fantasy), and they go to Club Silencio where they are told that everything is an illusion. Oooh, deep. Betty becomes Diane, etc. The narrative gets even more dreamy and druggy. Diane's idolizing love for Camilla is as boring as Camilla's shallow indifference and cruelty. Betty gets to have hot sex, Diane can't even successfully jerk off. Camilla is all satisfied and voluptuous. Snore...

Many of my favorite stories, novels, and films play with dream sequences and/or drugs and/or insanity as a way of calling attention to the highly subjective nature of reality and experience--again, perhaps that's part of what irritates me when such sequences feel like cop outs. A random, incomplete list:
  • Young Goodman Brown
  • Haunting of Hill House (Shirley Jackson)
  • The Wizard of Oz (Ok, so I'm no huge WOZ fan, but it's an obvious example)
  • The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • At Play in the Fields of the Lord (Peter Matthiessen)
  • Let it Come Down (Paul Bowles)
  • The Tartar Steppe (Dino Buzzati) and the film version Desert of the Tartars (Valerio Zurlini)
  • Poe and Borges stores are full of dreams and drugs. Gerard de Nerval, etc...
  • Picnic at Hanging Rock (Peter Weir)
  • The Last Wave (Peter Weir)
  • Solaris (Stanislaw Lem) also Andrei Tarkovsky's film version. The more recent Steven Soderbergh version is more vague.
  • Turn of the Screw, The Innocents (Henry James)
  • Lots of Philip K. Dick
  • Time Bandits and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (Terry Gilliam)
  • Nightmare on Elm Street (Duh)
  • Probably a lot of films by John Cassavetes that I haven't seen
I'm not so interested in hearing about why you think Mulholland Drive is a great film. But I am interested in hearing about your favorite dreamy, druggy films and books--ones that distort reality in ways that more fascinating, interesting, and illuminating than Mulholland Drive.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Friday Lester


Lester contemplates the forpusfield with Wonder Woman

Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Jeff Koons piece of Michael Jackson with Bubbles was more special than I could have imagined.


I am sick, but I don't think it's because of last weekend, when Mark and I went up to LA to visit with Joseph and Rita, see a lot of art, hear a lot of poetry, and eat a lot of good food.

What we saw:
What we ate:
  • Purple pickled eggs, chili, potato salad, pickles, and sandwiches at Philippe's. Mark had a classic beef dip with swiss cheese, and Joseph and I had lamb dips with blue cheese. We went at the height of the lunch rush; but we persevered, and the meal carried us all the way to dinner.
  • Burgers and onion rings at Umami Burger. Both were amazing, but the waiters were grumpy and inefficient. I'd go back for lunch in a heartbeat, though.
  • Brunch at Larkin's: I had "Maggie's Mess": Potatoes, scrambled eggs, onions,peppers, bacon hot links & chicken--pieces of fried chicken--with a bit of gravy and a biscuit.
  • Sausages and beer at Wurstküche.
What we heard at the Poetic Research Bureau:

  • Will Alexander
  • Guy Bennett
  • Paul Vangelisti
  • Diane Ward
  • Ben Ehrenreich
  • Ara Shirinyan
  • Andrew Maxwell
  • Sesshu Foster
  • Douglas Kearny
  • Roberto Leni
  • David Lloyd
  • Estrella del Valle
  • Seth Michelson
  • Dennis Philips
  • Saba Razvi
  • Martha Ronk
  • Matthew Shenoda
  • Daniel Tiffany
  • Molly Bendall

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

NaPoWriMo

I’ve been noodling around with a new webspace and wordpress blog format for some time, and I’m not done noodling. However, it occured to me that I could use my wordpress space to post my poems during the month of April. The project that I posted to my other poetry blog, See it Everywhere, is more or less finished, and it doesn’t make sense to keep posting there. So, starting tomorrow, I’ll post poems here.

Eventually, I may ween myself away from this my blogger blog, but for now, poems will go in the new space:

http://spooksbyme.org/terminalhumming/

and everything else will go here.