March 28, 2006

The girl is crafty like ice is cold.

I've been meaning to post pictures of my recent patch-making brilliance, but I had to wait until the patches got delivered to their recipients so as not to spoil any surprises. Er, and then I forgot.

First off, as noted by my illustrious sister, angry vegetables are always funny. Actually, I was in a bit of an Andy Warhol mood and wound up mass-producing an entire army of irritable brassicas (and if you look closely you can also see that I've started doing old designs in new, weird colors).

Next, per request, a fairly standard Jolly Roger. I didn't draw this design -- I wish! -- I only made the screen and printed it.

But actually the Jolly Roger itself wasn't the request. The request was to tart it up in a way that no self-respecting spooky pirate would stand for, although when you think about all the floggings and buggery it's almost guaranteed to be appropriate.

Finally, even though I spoiled the surprise of this last one with a previous post, it was apparently this that had Katie rolling on the floor when she opened her mail. I realized when I was putting together the pictures for this entry that I sent off my best examples of this design and kept the ones that turned out sloppy, so you'll have to excuse the quality. I didn't want to wait to make another before posting; it takes too long for the black ink to dry. Lord knows these blog posts are time-sensitive.

Posted by dianna at 12:39 PM

March 24, 2006

Son, you're still young, and you always jump the gun.

Rum and scissors you say? I'll see you and raise you.

1. General boredom.
2. Boredom directed specifically at hair.
3. This stuff is really damned good. Nobody else I know will willingly drink it.

4. An after-the-fact reenaction of a very important morale-building exercise.
5. Not-exactly-sober reflection.
6. For the record, the reattachment surgery was not a success.

7. The infamous Dianna Woolsey Stupid Dance, visibly cuter with short hair than long.
8. Please note that this dance is not for the faint of posterior. But let's try to think of the children here, guys.

Speaking of the children, actually, I'm going to see if Locks of Love would like this follicular albatross of which I'm now rid. As much as I was tired of having so much hair, I can see not wanting to be bald.

Posted by dianna at 07:09 PM

March 21, 2006

But sir I really must protest.

Yesterday morning, I recall distinctly, I woke up three times.

The first time was at 6:00 -- Jacob was getting up early to take his car to the shop and had set the alarm to twice its normal volume. I flung off the covers and sat bolt upright in a panic, then realized that the earsplitting, earthshaking noise I'd heard was only morning radio. I settled back into bed.

The second time was maybe a half hour later. I'd drifted back to sleep to take advantage of my last hour of fair sleeping time, when suddenly it occurred to me that I couldn't breathe. I had the sheets over my head to block out the light, but I don't think that was quite it. I have this recollection of trying to take a breath and just knowing it wasn't working -- I think it may have been a replay of my Top Scariest Dream Ever, the one in which I stop breathing because I'm dreaming about suffocating. So I flung the covers off a second time and sat up gasping for dear life.

Apparently I went back to sleep again, because at 7:00 Jacob shook me awake. I'd been having another dream, this one at least slightly better than the last one. I had a midterm, see. I don't have any more midterms this semester -- only a midsemester paper with which I'm nearly done, in plenty of time. But it was just that nightmare-ready moment when the test papers are being handed out and it's far too late to protest that there's no midterm in this class. I got mine and looked at it. The test format was as follows: you are provided with the name of a legal case, and nothing more. Discuss. It's up to you to figure out how long your answer should be for each case and what form it should take. Naturally, I'd never heard of any of the cases (and this was LGBT Studies, and not a law class at all). I was in the process of sidling up to the instructor to try to figure out what the hell was going on, when Jacob in his infinite mercy woke me up.

It's phenomenal. Any one of those things would be a classically horrible way to start a Monday, and by virtue of a nonstandard sleep pattern I got all three of them in the space of a single hour. Good morning, Dianna, and welcome to the week before spring break. May we kill you now and save you the trouble of figuring out what to do with all that free time?

Tonight, feeling rebellious, I decided to have frozen Pepperidge Farms apple turnovers for dinner instead of proper adult food. I'll give you two guesses what that smoky smell is, and the first one doesn't count.

Posted by dianna at 06:35 PM

March 14, 2006

Objection = death.

There's an interesting thing happening in my LGBT Studies class right now upon which I feel compelled to comment. Last Thursday, in addition to Silverlake Life, we watched a clip of a performance titled "Death of an Asshole" by Emilio Cubeiro (I'm not sure I want to search for a link while on a library computer, so that will have to wait until I get home). It's from a Rosa von Praunheim film called "Silence = Death", the second of a three-film series about AIDS. It's graphic and tasteless -- the instructor acknowledged this -- and severely in-your-face. Out of context, it's horrifying for what it appears to show. In context, it's a work of deliberate shock and provocation. We watched it out of context, as evidenced by the following comments on the class discussion board.

  • " heart started racing, and my stomach dropped... I was horrified at what I had just witnessed, believing the entire time that what I had just seen had really happened."
  • "I literally had nightmares and couldn't sleep."
  • "I had basically started feeling panicked when the gun came out and stayed that way until the end of the clip."

The interesting thing that happened between then and now is that someone in the class got sufficiently upset to take a complaint all the way to the chancellor of the university. That's skipping about five levels of authority along the way -- the TAs, the instructor, the department head, the dean of letters and sciences, and probably someone else in Berkeley's labyrinthine beauracracy as well -- and the instructor is furious. Here's the problem: he says he's furious that the student lodged the complaint without bringing the objection to him first. It seems to me that he's actually furious that the person objected to seeing the clip at all. Lecture today began with the angry announcement that this is not a class in which one can sit back and watch, or not watch, and not become involved with the material. In other words, if you weren't willing and prepared to be smashed over the head with the absolute maximum horror of the AIDS epidemic, you shouldn't have enrolled in this lower-division LGBT Studies survey course (notwithstanding the announcement the first week that yes, this is an American Cultures credit class, and if the only reason you're in the class is for American Cultures credit that's fine).

As you might be able to tell, I object. It's like saying that if you weren't prepared to see large-screen video footage of cattle slaughter and in vivo fur-stripping, you shouldn't have clicked on this vegan-slanted blog. It's out of proportion. More to the point, it means the instructor is very obviously not a neutral party to whom one can go and complain about material presented in class, because the political slant which one should reasonably expect from such a class is in him both radical and severely personal. So while I, if I had been that disturbed, might have taken my complaint to the department instead of the chancellor, I see with perfect clarity and sympathy why the student didn't take it to the instructor.

I'm trying, and failing, to form a single cogent yet comprehensive question to present here to encourage discussion. So: you have a public university, attended by rational and emotionally competent adults. You have an academic department, inextricably linked with radical and confrontational politics. You have a film clip which combines an analyzable political position with horrifying imagery (and the third of the three comments quoted above is mine, to give you a sense of who you have to be to be freaked out by it). You have a student breaking etiquette and protocol, and an instructor for whom both the political and the professional are personal. What do you think?

Posted by dianna at 03:22 PM

In late Pleistocene, marine environment finds you!

The above is taken directly from my class notes on today's Hunter-Gatherer Archaeology lecture. See, from about 20,000 years ago to about 6,000 years ago there was a constant rise in sea levels due to the melting of glaciers and polar ice. Given the gradual slope of most shore environments, a single vertical meter becomes a colossal horizontal change bringing the shore hundreds of meters farther inland. In the Japanese archipelago, the change amounted to 140 vertical meters, causing people living in extremely inland areas to suddenly have access to marine environments. Since marine environments are famously resource-rich and able to carry higher populations than other environments, this provides one of the explanations for how the Jomon, Japan's prehistoric hunter-gatherers, supported a complex society and occupational specialization without engaging in agriculture.

The thing about me and learning is that it works best when a fact can be combined with some kind of obscure in-joke which is actually too ridiculous to forget. This is why I should never be allowed to teach classes.

Posted by dianna at 02:28 PM

March 10, 2006

Panic hardware

I'm having a hell of a week.

Monday I threw prudence to the wind and spent a lovely evening at Kristen and Gene's ostensibly working on the Tumbleweed Tinies movie project but actually just enjoying my friends' company. The delicious Indian food I ordered made me violently ill all night.

Tuesday I overslept because I'd been violently ill instead of sleeping during the night, and I didn't call work to let them know I wasn't coming in. I get to do that exactly once before I'm in serious trouble. I made it to my review session for Hunter-Gatherer Archaeology and picked up the panic-inducing review sheet, then spent the afternoon calming myself by studying my head off.

Wednesday saw a faint note of returning panic, fading to a reasonable self-confidence by the end of the evening because, well, what else can you do when you're out of study time? High note: instead of frustrating discussion section for LGBT Studies this week we went to the Berkeley Art Museum and looked at a photography exhibit. I snuck out early and wandered over to look at Han dynasty ceramics instead. Low note: I completely forgot to write and post my reading response for my Salinger class, which is another thing I get to do only once before I'm in trouble.

Thursday, I walked blithely into my LGBT Studies lecture with no idea that 90 minutes later I (along with half the class) would walk out crying. "We'll be discussing paper topics and watching a couple of film clips," said the class website breezily, and then the instructor flung us into Silverlake Life: The View from Here without warning. If I thought that watching two people who love each other watch each other die slowly was something I could do twice, I'd be planning to see the whole thing, since it didn't all fit into the class period. But as beautiful and impressive a film project as it is, I'm not sure I could bring myself to see it again. When the instructor turned off the film, my classmates and I shuffled out into the sun like 60 tear-stained zombies, too shocked even to talk to each other. Horrible. Horrible. Necessary. Horrible. And then somehow I took a Hunter-Gatherer Archaeology midterm and aced it easily, and went to dinner with Jacob's parents. And snapped at Jacob for the rest of the evening because I was still horrified and angry that that movie had ever needed to be made at all.

Today, my Mediterranean Anthropology professor showed an ethnographic film on the French Basques, and handed out the take-home midterm. The film was interesting and not traumatic at all. The midterm involves writing 100-word explanations of concepts that were mentioned once during lecture and not at all in any class reading. I stared at it for a few minutes while eating lunch and then gave up and decided to deal with it once I'd gotten home. So here I am.

I've been completely scatterbrained all week in minor ways, like remembering to have the correct notebooks and readers with me for a given class. I haven't managed to coordinate that one correctly on a single day since last Friday, actually. I missed my first lecture all semester due to the food poisoning and oversleeping fiasco. I've changed my work hours four times, including twice in one day, and I tipped a half-full truck of books onto the floor today within five minutes of arriving.

What I don't properly understand is why days like these feel better when I have a half-pound of steel hanging from my earlobes. Somehow I'm never in a position to analyze it, but it works.

Posted by dianna at 02:57 PM

March 07, 2006

Candy from strangers, or bread from Diannas

Here is the million-dollar question: was it the delicious assorted naan, which I shared so expansively with the entire Tumbleweed Tinies cast and crew last night, that made me horrendously sick four hours later, or was it the vegetable pakoras which I hoarded jealously for myself? If I'm unsure, what lesson should I take from this to guide my future food-sharing behavior?

Between 1:30 and 4:30 this morning I didn't actually leave the bathroom. Why bother? Every half-hour, on the half-hour, the names of the offending foods would start marching through my mind like a litany of remorse. Garlic naan. Onion kulcha. Kashmiri naan. Mixed pakoras. Garlic naan. Onion kulcha. Kashmiri naan. Mixed pakoras. One of the culprits would volunteer for my reinspection, and then I'd curl back up in the fetal position on the bathmat and resume wanting to die.

I've mentioned this before, but Jacob is completely unreasonable about disgusting illnesses at terrible times. It's one thing to indulge your delicately swooning beau with a little manly mothering by, I don't know, fetching smelling salts and holding her limp hand during decent daylight hours. It's quite another to go on Pepto-Bismol runs in the middle of the night and let your not-so-delicately vomiting girlfriend back in bed at 5:00 in the morning when she has reverse-Indian-food breath. And bring in the energy-sucking space heater so she can spend three hours in the 40-degree bathroom without dying.

I'm feeling better now, having missed two hours of work and an LGBT Studies lecture (oh rats), but still in time to wobble my way to the midterm review for Hunter-Gatherer Archaeology. It's pretty nice timing, frankly, if I may say so. Of course, even better timing would have been never at all. Ugh.

Posted by dianna at 11:09 AM

March 03, 2006

Yeah. Fine.

I've just finished watching Garden State. I feel like I should now take the DVD case and beat myself over the head with it, since the movie stopped short of that point but only just barely.

Honestly, what is this? I'm the troglodyte mass, the audience that demands happy endings, love stories, and no ambiguity. "Spell it out for me," I beg of the screen on a regular basis, "cut out this subtlety crap and just tell me exactly what the characters are feeling and learning right now." Now, as in any good cliched tale, I've gotten my wish and it's turned out monstrous. I cringed every time a character explained that you have to live in the present and take life as is. I rolled my eyes and scowled as the ending credits scrolled to a song with the lyrics, "let go, jump in, what are you waiting for?" I wondered if the person whose movie idea this was couldn't have been persuaded to go out and do something instead of making a movie about how you have to go out and do something. I've got a brilliant idea for a drinking game in which you drink every time Zach Braff learns a heart-warming lesson about spontaneity from Natalie Portman, but I'm afraid to publicize it for fear that a wave of alcohol-poisoning deaths would follow.

It's the world's least charitable nutshell review: put down the bong, go take a cold shower, and come back when you have something to say that isn't a self-important platitude.

I'm feeling mean today, if you can't tell. I grumped my way through class and work this morning, grumped my way through lunch with Jacob, snapped at a meek fellow in the post office who thought I might know the answer to a question, stomped home, and then grumped my way through one movie, one cup of chocolate chips, one cup of tea, and one 30-second hailstorm without any lightening of my mood. I think my only hope at this point is to sit down and finish reading Franny and Zooey, because at least in Salinger I can be sure of not finding any redemption or sweet spontaneity. Or true love, or earnest attempts to improve my life for me. My life is improved when I have something to glower about. Now get lost, mister, I've got a lot of bitchy to be.

Edit: Oh, all right. It'll spoil the entire mood of this post, but I can't resist. Go read today's Penny Arcade. It's a thing of beauty and a joy forever.

Posted by dianna at 06:38 PM

March 02, 2006


In what I can only assume to be a donut-shaped inversion of the Earth and its inhabitants, today my LGBT Studies lecture irritated the living hell out of me and my Hunter-Gatherer Archaeology class was quite good. I think in both cases it's because we're far enough into the semester to have finished with general background information and started looking at the instructor's area of particular interest. Unfortunately, my LGBT Studies instructor is a Queer Theory Person, or possibly just a Philosophy Person wearing Queer Theory drag. I hate Philosophy. That's not the same as hating philosophy; Philosophy in my dictionary is a specifically impenetrable mass of masturbatory jargon rattled off without concern for whether the audience can discern any meaning behind it (to which, if the audience is me, the answer is usually no). That was, unfortunately, today's lecture on queer theory and I hated it. My lecture notes are full of desperate half-sentences which trail off with my inability to keep up and end on "wait goddamnit what the fuck did that MEAN?".

After 90 minutes of that, I dragged myself sulkily into Hunter-Gatherer Archaeology and was utterly delighted by concrete and interesting facts like "the plants of use for agriculture have the characteristics of weeds: high reproductive energy expenditure, short reproductive cycle, and the ability to thrive in regularly disturbed habitats" and "if you find all of the waste products of seed or nut collection at all of the camps of the group eating those seed and nut foods, it means they're not doing field processing of the collected material, while if you find some camps with only shells and others with only husks, it means they're spending more time afield to partially refine the collected materials in order to make the most efficient use of their labor in bringing the harvest back to the base camp." I like facts. I love facts. The more excruciatingly specific and concrete they are, the more I like them. You can see where I get into trouble with philosophy.

I'm unsure how this fits into today's theme of groundshaking inversion, but I've also mailed off my application for summer fieldwork in Connecticut (and realized that I haven't responded to the question of what project I was applying to work on, but I will). I'm trying not to beat myself over the head too hard about whether my essay covered all the things it needed to and whether I should have taken the opportunity to fling myself at the professor's feet and apologize for my GPA in tones of readmission and promises to do better. I didn't; any attempt to get my application back at this point would constitute mail fraud; the "readmitted" note on my transcript will simply have to speak for itself. I will in the meantime wring my hands prettily and hope, because after all, that was the majority of my labor in getting readmitted in the first place.

The computer on which I'm typing this, at the Open Computing Facility on campus, is officially named Cataclysm. To my left are Tempest, Tsunami, and Tornado, to my right is Fallingrocks, and somewhere behind me is Apocalypse. I'd venture a guess that they were named by someone whose finals weren't going well, but that's only because I don't yet know whether I possess powers of time-traveling telekinetic computer-naming which would have allowed me to do it today during LGBT Studies.

Posted by dianna at 04:52 PM