The arts and crafts to which I alluded earlier today were prompted by the need to accessorize my somewhat anonymous book bag. I tried last week by putting my militant Stop Snicket! button on it, but only succeeded in losing the button entirely during my Wednesday dash from Mediterranean Anthro to LGBT Studies (since the dash in question covers 75% of the diagonal distance across the campus, finding it again would be like finding, well, a 1-inch button in a half-mile of heavily trodden ground). Now I'm down one really awesome and difficult to replace button, and my bag is still plain. Hence, the potential entry titled Get Lost!
An obvious choice for a good thing to have on my bag is a rainbow flag. I bought one to put on my backpack during my first year of college and haven't been without it since, but since that was six years ago the patch is so grubby and worn that its rainbow nature is pretty debatable. The sidewalk stand from which I bought it has disappeared or stopped selling them, and strangely, there doesn't seem to be anyplace else in Berkeley to find such a thing. There are shops on Telegraph where one can buy a 420 patch or a stack of 25 supposedly vintage patches saying Boise Youth Forestry League, but not so much a rainbow. The downtown area is far too neutral to associate itself with something so marginal as a rainbow flag (madam, I am shocked you would suggest it), and my own neighborhood with its Baptist churches on every corner contains no help either. I eventually turned to the internet and had one shipped from Florida, which is preposterous but actually less expensive than BARTing to the Castro to look there. You cannot, indeed, buy a rainbow in Berkeley.
Since my mail-order rainbow is still en route, I am still wandering around with a frustratingly anonymous book bag. Rather, I was indeed wandering thus, but after this weekend's arts and crafts frenzy I am doing so no more. In my internet shopping I discovered the strange phenomenon of cute and clever vegan-related stickers which are available precisely nowhere in patch form. Stickers?! What am I supposed to do with a sticker?
Which is all well and good, but omits the essential issue of what happens when these slapdash homemade patches fall off my book bag, fray beyond recognition, or simply become dirty and worn? The answer is, they will be replaced with legion upon legion of identical patches with absolutely minimal marginal effort on my part, thanks to the wonder of amateur home screenprinting! Behold, the cottage industrial revolution! Personal, quirky arts and crafts on a scale of mass production!
One of those "deep-fried vegan" patches is already adorning my bag, and today while walking between classes I overheard two people behind me discussing whether it is indeed possible to deep-fry things in a vegan manner. They arrived at the right answer on their own, exempting me from becoming involved to any greater degree than puffing out my chest a bit more as I stomped the rest of the way to lecture. It's working! It's working! I am a discursive cause! People are thinking about the possibilities inherent in a life of glorious overindulgence in cruelty-free fats!
The last of the post titles which I can reasonably work into this entry is the one about marination, which was simply the thought that occurred to me during lunch while I slouched around the rainy campus holding a tupperware container of delicious warm Thai coconut soup and finding no dry places in which to eat it. It wouldn't have been a good idea to drop me into hot oil around 12:15 unless you were wearing substantial splatter protection, so perhaps for today soaking would have been a more appropriate sentiment than frying.
Mind you, now that I think about it, stewing would be more appropriate still. But that's a general condition and not terribly related to today's weather.
Proposed titles for blog entries started this week and never finished:
Fuck the putting-out system (or, The cottage industrial revolution)
Why I read this stuff.
Perhaps that ought to say "marinated".
You can't buy a rainbow here, this is Berkeley.
And, of course, this one, which hints at numerous interesting things I've meant to share with you but fails utterly to explain them all. It appears I don't have time to pontificate anymore, because other people are doing it for me in the form of lectures and assigned readings. Take, for instance, the 300-page loose ethnography of the village of Peyrane which I'm supposed to be reading right now. It's charming, but I started reading it last night before dinner, continued from dinner to bedtime, and am still not done with the second chapter. Now a tiny squeaky voice is coming from my book bag asking me why I'm not reading it and don't I love it anymore.
I do, my sweet. I promise. I dearly hope you'll continue to tell me about the integration of the national French primary school curriculum into village education in the Apt Valley. And afterwards, while you're sleeping contentedly, I'll sneak over to the computer and post an entry about arts and crafts. With pictures!
When people at both AskJeeves and Penny Arcade are doing something, have I any choice but to follow?
I went out yesterday and purchased a Nerf Nite Finder, a single-shot pistol that fires sucker-tipped squishy foam darts. Jacob is holding out for the Maverick, which was sold out at Target, but it's folly if you ask me. For one, at the moment, I have a Nerf gun and he doesn't. I may have only three darts (they were out of refills too) and need to reload after each shot, but that's three soft and non-injurious things I can land on him before he gathers up my ammo and hides it from me. For two, even when he gets his Maverick, he will still not have an honest-to-god targeting beam. And I do! My gun has a little red LED and an adjustable magnifying lens to coalesce it into a surprisingly bright and accurate target dot. Oh man. It's a whole different world now.
Scene: the house on 63rd Street, 7 pm
Jacob (opening door): Hi sweetie!
(Silence, disturbed by a slight creaking)
Jacob (uncertainly): Dianna?
(Red dot appears on Jacob's shirt and hovers there for a suspenseful moment. Squishy foam dart suddenly flies out of the darkness of the kitchen and hits Jacob's chest with a solid thwacking noise.)
Dianna (appearing in kitchen doorway looking shocked): Honey! You've... you've been hit! What kind of a monster could have done this?
Jacob (sighing and picking up foam dart from the floor): You've still got the gun in your hand, you know.
I just started to write a lengthy soliloquy about school and my various resolutions and intentions for this semester, then gave up on it and decided to finish my LGBT Studies reading instead. That should tell you more about what's actually going on than the soliloquy would have done anyway, since I'm not known for applying myself in school. In fact, it's probably safe to say that I've spent my entire education failing in various crucial ways to apply myself.
But this time? Just slap an iron on top of me and watch me stick.
The following is not a joke: my readers for Hunter-Gatherer Archaeology and LGBT Studies are so big that I needed to buy a bigger backpack to hold them. One of them is only Volume 1 of a two-volume set, and the other was pared down to one volume by the simple expedient of taking out required readings and putting them on electronic reserve instead. For my third class I have four textbooks and a reader, and now I'm very glad that my fourth class entails only a small stack of J.D. Salinger paperbacks. I am going to be reading a lot of things this semester.
The ridiculously huge backpack I bought at REI last night is easily big enough to fit all of these reading materials simultaneously, and that was the enticing thought which compelled me to buy it. However, there is a problem here. The problem is that I cannot lift that much crap no matter how it's contained, and self-levitation is not one of the features of this 3-man tent I seem to have purchased. So I went back out today to find something a little more appropriate.
I tried on backpacks. I tried on bags. I did lightning-fast volume calculations in my head. I took a sensible and purposeful survey of inexpensive, minimally sufficient backpacks with dazzlingly plentiful ergonomic pockets. Then I gave in to the obvious, which was that I really wanted to join the throngs of hipsters with canvas messenger bags. I would pick up a backpack and admire its simple, sturdy, practical design, and then realize that I'd turned my head away from the periwinkle monstrosity in front of me with its proliferating external pockets and was instead contemplating a rack of three-panel messenger bags in sober, attractive colors. My defenses were ravaged before I even had time to assemble them.
So that's it, then. I've got my hoodie. I've got my rolled-up pants. I've got my lip piercing. I've got my book bag slung over one shoulder, filled with titles like "Inventing Heterosexuality". I believe I've just ceased to be whoever the hell I was before and become a hipster nancy boy. Well, all right. If that's the way it's going to be, I'm going out for the afternoon. I'll be in a coffeeshop reading gender theory if you need me. Past four o'clock you should probably look for me to have square, dark-framed glasses, because I understand these things have a sort of acquisitional momentum about them.
I was just looking up bus schedules when I discovered that AC Transit has implemented what the Bay Area has desperately needed for years: the all-night transbay bus. It's AC Transit line 800, and it leaves the Van Ness Muni stop every hour between 1:00 and 5:00 am. It passes the Civic Center, Powell, Montgomery, and Embarcadero BART stations, and heads to the East Bay passing Macarthur, Ashby, Downtown Berkeley, and Richmond BART stations along the way. The westbound bus also leaves once an hour and traces the same route in reverse.
Hot shit! This is fantastic! A transbay bus ride costs $3.50. A cab from the city to Berkeley costs ten times that, and a cab from Berkeley to the city (should you ever need one) is a thing about which to keep dreaming.
Now, mind you, if you miss the 2:03 bus by five minutes you'll still find yourself deeply unhappy while you wait an hour on Market Street for the next one. Still, if you pay attention to the time and leave your concert/party/bar/other well-mannered frivolity accordingly, you now have 100% more good ways to get home. Best of all, if you're a Berkeley student, as many of the people taking this bus will be, you don't even need to make sure to save $3.50 of your carousing money for the fare. Just have your student ID with bus pass sticker, and get home free and safely.
The new bus line is part of an all-night bus network being funded by the recent bridge toll increase. All hail, I say. This is the sort of public service for which I will pay extra taxes, fares, fees, and other financial incursions, and pay them happily at that. When Jacob and I drive to the city tonight I will fork over my $3 with a smile on my face. Thanks, guys.
I've said this before and I'll say it again: William is a wonderful piercer. I think that for many of the same reasons he's a wonderful piercer, he'd also be a very good prostitute. No, seriously. I mean, yes, he's very attractive. He's also dazzlingly personable and makes it impossible to walk into his shop without becoming convinced that you're there because he missed you and wanted to chat with you. He has an amazing memory for names and faces and personal details. I go in there fully three years after the last time I'd gotten a piercing from him, and he asks me if Jacob has finished his PhD yet (okay, asking after people's significant others might not be a good habit for a prostitute, although, I don't really know, maybe it would). He thinks nothing of spending an hour and a half with one person when there's a lobby full of other people waiting because, by God, you are his most important customer. Whoever you are.
Actually, he'd be phenomenal at most people-oriented careers I can think of. It's just my luck that he decided to be a piercer, and if he hadn't I think I'd have had a lot fewer holes in my body over the last five years. In any case, I walked in today, waited around a bit for William to be in and available, had a lengthy and delightful chat with him during which I privately freaked out only a little bit, and walked out with one (1) ring in my lip. Finally! The battle has been won, with only one injury on the winning side! It's a puncture wound and the patient is recovering nicely.
All right, all right, fine. You can have a picture. But only because I like you.
I just watched Immortal Beloved, which, if I'd ever seen the trailer, I'd never have done. There are three reasons I don't particularly like Beethoven. One is that his work is too ponderous and grandiose for my liking. The other two reasons are Ode to Joy and the Fifth Symphony, which are so ponderous and grandiose that they demanded to be recognized as separate reasons. It's that bad. The theatrical trailer for Immortal Beloved is a swashbuckling riot, a disorderly romp of smashed chandeliers and ripped bodices set to the most overwrought bits of the Goddamn Fifth Symphony.
Fortunately, the movie is nothing like that. The story is a tragic one of unfulfilled love, with Gary Oldman as a Beethoven who is in turns brilliant and pitiable. One of the loveliest scenes in the whole thing is set to Moonlight Sonata in D, which as far as I'm concerned he could have written and taken the rest of his life off, his great work completed. It's a sad, long, slow and somewhat mysterious movie, and I with my short attention span and need for happy endings liked it anyway. The movie framework -- almost all retrospective, but hardly chronological -- spools out the story in a way that's much more compelling than just telling it would have been.
To be fair, I don't think it's very historical. I'm not sure one man could have ripped that many bodices in one lifetime, really. But the hell with history when there's dramatic fiction to be had! Besides, it has Gary Oldman. The hell with history when there's Gary Oldman to be had.
Today, for the second successive day, I collected my figurative balls and left my house on a mission. I gathered my money. I gathered my lollipops (lemon drops today, actually). I walked up Alcatraz to Telegraph, walked down Telegraph to 66th, reached confidently for the front door of number 6601, and discovered that it was in fact closed.
Closed! Yesterday must have been a shop maintenance day; there were the usual motorcycles outside and stuff laying around the lobby, but the lights were off and the door locked. There is such a thing as bad piercing karma which can be incurred by persuading someone who wishes to be closed for business to pierce you anyway. I know this. I've done it. I did not do it yesterday and I don't intend to do it again. I came home meekly instead.
Today, I now realize, is Tuesday Is A Good Day To Be Closed Day. This time there was really no one around to see me standing outside the door scuffling my feet on the sidewalk and pouting, which is a shame because that was some of my best scuffling and pouting ever. I pouted and scuffled my little heart out, but still it did me no good.
I am not willing to be deterred thus. I have a lip that needs piercing, and I'm not about to go to some monkey with a needle at another shop just because William's acquired weird business hours. I hereby declare that I will present myself at the door of Gottsi between the hours of 1 pm and 5 pm every day until I find him actually there and prepared to pierce me. Every day, do you hear me, mister? Slippery though you undoubtedly are, you cannot escape me!
Short of going out of business, that is, and if you're going to do that I'd like you to wait until I'm nicely set up with a lip ring. Thanks.
Yes, you. What the hell are you doing?
Um, I'm sitting in the study listening to Iron and Wine.
Wait, I thought you didn't like Iron and Wine.
Shutupshutup. Cinder and Smoke is a really pretty song.
Okay, okay. What were you supposed to be doing today?
Um... buying textbooks?
I don't see you doing that. What else?
I don't see you doing that either.
What time is it now?
Um... almost 2.
What time did Gottsi open?
You've spent the last two hours sitting around your house twiddling your thumbs to put off going there because having a needle stuck in your lip is going to hurt for fifteen seconds?
Well, I also blogged about movies. That took up a half hour or so.
I watched House of Flying Daggers last night. Spoiler, spoiler spoiler spoiler, spoiler spoiler. I'm prepared to bet that if you're likely to watch House of Flying Daggers, you've already watched Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and probably also Hero, which takes care right there of the sum of my Hong Kong martial arts movie-watching career. In that case, you already fucking know how the fucking movie is going to fucking end because they all end the same fucking way! Everyone you were rooting for throughout the movie, even if you were initially unwilling to get attached to any of the characters because you knew what was going to happen, dies unfulfilled in a way that is totally unnecessary. Or in the case of Hero, dies unfulfilled in a way that is totally unnecessary, then turns out not to have done so after all, dies in a different unnecessary unfulfilled way, then turns out not to have done that either and does it a third time in a way which is even more frustrating and useless than the first two.
This is a plot convention which I really, really hate. I loathe it, despise it, am irritated by it, and do not now see nor have ever seen why it's either necessary or desirable. I realize that there are far too many movies (and books and other kinds of stories) in which everyone gets what they want and/or what they deserve, in defiance of all logic and realism, for the sake of a happy ending. I realize that those stories are schlocky and have little narrative purpose. There are also plenty of movies (and books and other kinds of stories) in which everyone doesn't get what they want and/or what they deserve, for a reason, in a way which gives the story a point. Take Chasing Amy for example, and yes, I know that I railed against the ending the first time I saw it. I still rail; it's frustrating and sad. Still, it serves a purpose. There's a very good reason for it to end that way, and if it ended any differently it would totally alter not only the story but the characters and the idea behind the movie. Fine.
I'm certain that someone is going to tell me that it's just the same for the entire genre of Hong Kong martial arts tragedies, and that the endings are a lesson in the futility of human passions or the inevitability of death. That someone might be right. But it just isn't working for me. I'm getting so frustrated that I think I'm going to have to swear off the genre. I loved House of Flying Daggers right up until I started hating it. If I hadn't seen the last half hour, I could have watched the first hour and a half again and enjoyed it. But not now. You bastard movie, I thought we had something special here. Why did you have to do that?
In less frustrating news, I've been listening to the I Am Sam soundtrack lately. I've never seen the movie, but someone let me copy the soundtrack and I'm pleasantly surprised by some of the covers. In particular, I think I like the Grandaddy cover of Revolution better than the Beatles original. Now that's praise.
Jacob and I have just, with some reluctance, cancelled our GreenCine membership and signed back up for Netflix. The reluctance comes from the fact that we like GreenCine, in particular its excellent member-driven Lists feature. The doing it anyway comes from the fact that as a smaller service they have terrible availability problems and not very good turnaround time. Netflix is a well-oiled machine; you send your movie back on Monday and get your next one by Wednesday or Thursday. GreenCine is a bit rusty; you send your movie back and sometime within the next week you'll get something which wasn't at the top of your list because whatever was at the top of your list is already checked out to someone else.
I'm being unkind, or at least biased. If, like certain people around here, You Are Interested In Film, GreenCine is just fine. If you want, for instance, Dead Reckoning, which came out in 1947 and which I for one have never heard of, you can get it immediately. But if you want Back to the Future you'll be waiting a damn long time. As it happens, I'd really like to see Back to the Future. And Amadeus, and X-2, and Time Bandits and Wallace and Gromit and Star Trek: TNG Season 5 and a lot of other things which Netflix, pandering to the troglodyte masses, has by the shelf-full.
Here is my confession: I am a troglodyte mass.
As it turns out, in the year that we've spent not paying attention, Netflix has done incredible things with its selection and its interface. We both went through our 263-movie-long queue with some skepticism, testing Netflix to see if it would perform. Would they have Yossi and Jagger? They would. Would they have Dzien Swira? Evidently they would. How about Boogiepop Phantom (what the hell is Boogiepop Phantom?), D.O.A., or The Sweet Smell of Success? Yes, apparently so.
We ran out of objections rather rapidly after that. Now that the switch is settled, we just need to move our entire queue to Netflix. I've volunteered to use the awesome power of my unemployment to enter all the titles manually and maybe do some judicious shuffling along the way. In the meantime, since the January billing is already past, we can still get GreenCine movies for another month. We've decided to remake our GreenCine queue for this month to include only the things we won't be able to get through Netflix.
Whoops, silly me. I already said Netflix has everything. Clearly I don't know what I'm cocking about. I mean talking about.
My schedule of classes for this semester has been finalized.
Anthropology 180: Mediterranean Society
LGBT Studies 20AC: Alternative Sexual Identities and Communities in Contemporary American Society
Anthropology 129C: Archaeology of Hunter-Gatherers
Comparative Literature 198: Reading J.D. Salinger
On the whole I'm very glad that I spent my first three years of college taking whatever looked interesting, instead of systematically fulfilling breadth and major requirements. I'm also very pleased with this semester's schedule and fully expect all four classes to be fascinating (which means that after accounting for the vagaries of teaching and material, I should still be able to count on two of them being fascinating). Further, I know that the above list represents hours of careful consideration in which each class was meticulously selected for its graduation-enhancing qualities.
But it still looks a little funny for a senior year of archaeology.