April 07, 2008


This is insufferable music nerdery, but I have to ask. Does this:

Now I'm falling asleep
And she's calling a cab
While he's having a smoke
And she's taking a drag
Now they're going to bed
And my stomach is sick

Sound kinda like this:

Yeah I lay down a while
And I look at my hotel wall
And I'm phoning a cab
'Cause my stomach feels small
There's a taste in my mouth
And it's no taste at all

To anyone else? I guess there are only so many song lyrics you can write about "so and so is getting on so and so instead of on me" before they start to sound similar. But I could totally see the Killers being David Bowie fans -- it's in the gospel-chorus backing vocals. I'm just as glad they didn't try to include the part about the bipperty-bopperty hat, though. I mean, bipperty-bopperty? Hello, 1970? Your slang called; it wants a ride back home.

Posted by dianna at 11:54 AM

April 04, 2008


9:30 Friday night, just settling down in bed to watch Good Night and Good Luck in my underwear... and it occurs to me that I think I left my foot heater on at work.

You know, the foot heater I'm not supposed to have? The kind of old funky one that I don't trust to have any kind of auto-off function?

The one I really, really should not trust not to burn down my office overnight?

  • Option A: get out of bed, put pants on, take train downtown, walk to campus, let self into empty building, unplug heater, come all the way back.
  • Option B: call campus security and ask them to turn it off, get in trouble for having foot heater which is strictly disallowed in case I, for instance, leave it on on a Friday night after I've gone home.
  • Option C: leave it until tomorrow and spend all night having nightmares about burning down the graduate school.
Posted by dianna at 09:30 PM

April 01, 2008

Look out honey 'cause I'm using technology.

The technology I am using is called 2nd Avenue Records, and I have only just learned how to use it. It took a tutorial.

See, most music stores that I have shopped in have worked something like: music is out lying around in some kind of order, and you poke around until you find what you want. Self-serve. This generally suits me perfectly, because I have a pathological aversion to telling record store employees what I am looking for. It doesn't seem to matter whether I'm looking for something impressively cool or something totally embarrassing; I don't want anyone to know what it is until I have it in my hand. But 2nd Avenue Records doesn't give a damn about my neuroses, and, weirdly, I love them for it.

2nd Avenue Records is a glorious, wonderful, tiny independent music store that specializes in metal and hardcore but also has stuff that the Not That Hardcore populace wants to listen to. It's a tiny, tiny retail space stacked to the rafters with CDs and LPs. Did I mention it's tiny? I walked past yesterday and didn't believe it was a record store because it didn't take up half a block, and when I got inside I had a hard time figuring out where to step that wasn't taken up by various shit. I checked my bag in and was trying to browse discreetly among the mess, when an aging punk dude who may well have been the proprietor pointed out helpfully that that wasn't going to work. See, the LPs are all out in big racks like in a normal store, but the CDs are for some reason contained in a massive pile of boxes behind the counter. You have to tell them, "dude I gotta get a copy of Raw Power," and they'll drag out a shoebox or vodka case or something that says STOOGES in Sharpie on one side, and dump it on the counter in front of you and let you flip through it. And the shoebox or vodka case or whatever contains wonders unknown that even the other, hugely massive, local independent record stores don't have, and many of them are used and cheap and after a few minutes of agonizing decision you hand over 20 bucks and walk out with two CDs. Also, they're on your way home from work, which totally rules.

I'm in love with this whole business model. It's so outrageously old-fashioned: you go to a shop which is run by people who know what the fuck they're talking about, and you tell them what it is that you want and they understand and help you find it in the most useful, i.e. cheap, way possible. I love that this kind of knowledgeable, personal customer service exists only in the form of the scruffy, tattooed punk dudes at the tiny crappy crowded metal-and-hardcore record store. It strikes me as the kind of thing that makes corporate image consultants -- the kind who write customer service scripts that tell you how many times to use the customer's name and which places to smile and how much tasteful jewelry is allowed at the front counter -- put their heads in their nicely-groomed hands and cry.

I also love that it allowed me to sit at my desk today, in the full carnival of the second day of the term with everybody confused and frantic, listening to Iggy Pop made very small inside my speakers but nonetheless screaming at the top of his lungs. I can't begin to tell you how soothing it was. It's much easier to smile politely at a lot of people with identical frustrating problems when you have a tiny, tinny helper telling them all that their collective pretty face is going to hell. Even if they can't quite hear it, I know. I'm sorry, sir, what was that? Please excuse my associate; he's on drugs and has no social skills and is probably emotionally disturbed. I'd be happy to help you get into your classes.

The fact that my shrieking audio assistant and I were both at our desk until 7 pm today makes it incredibly likely that I will need to go back to 2nd Avenue Records before the week is out. It's only Tuesday and this is a short album, but if I can find one more that's as good I think I can get through at least Thursday. Maybe by Friday I'll just walk into the shop and ask the helpful scruffy punk dude if he can come to work with me for a few minutes and scream at people in person. I think that would keep requests for my help to a bare minimum for the next year at least.

Posted by dianna at 08:06 PM

Gotta make way for the Homo superior.

For shame, The Oregonian. For shame.

We have an article about a major step being taken by Oregon colleges willing to try out non-gender-strict dorm assignments, and all we can fucking talk about is how now straight couples get to live together. Because, you know, the queer students have really had an unfair advantage up to now under strict gender-segregated dorm arrangements. If you read to the end of the article someone actually fucking says so with a, haha, straight face. THANK GOD WE'VE STOPPED DISCRIMINATING AGAINST THE HETEROS.

It's not that there's anything particularly wrong with straight couples living together in college dorms -- I mean, it's a stupid idea for a shit-ton of reasons, but it's an equally stupid idea for straight couples and queer couples. So, sure, let 'em all give it a shot if they want to and they'll figure it out somehow.

No, my problem is that the article gives the barest mention to, oh, that tiny little aspect that has to do with making respectful and reasonable accommodations for students who are actually uncomfortable with or threatened by gender-segregated dorm arrangements. Honestly, who the fuck do they think pushed for gender-neutral dorms in the first place? Straight couples who couldn't bear to be separated? I fucking doubt it. A tiny handful of queer and trans kids who already spent their high school years fighting with their school administration over things like campus bathrooms? Probably. How much metaphorical or literal balls does it take to move on to college and keep fighting about it? Lots. How awesome is it that it's working? Awesome. How much recognition is that getting? Crickets. Tumbleweeds. Bleached cattle skulls and far-off lonely cowboy harmonica. None, is what I'm trying to say.

I've tried fighting automatically-gender-segregated living arrangements myself. I've tried it on two occasions I can think of, and both times I was in a totally comfy and privileged position compared to, say, your hypothetical 18-year-old transgender kid whose automatically-assigned "same sex" roommate is going to freak out and reject him or her utterly. Me, I was just in it for my own comfort and the principle of the thing. On one of the two occasions I fucked up the whole Kingman room-bid process and royally pissed off the house manager and did eventually win, but on the other -- in Ithaca, where my field-school director decided that male and female students would live in different houses -- I lost utterly. For six weeks that happened to correspond with my androgynous gender-freakout phase and wearing baggy boy jeans and boxers and chest-flattening sportsbras at all times, I lived in the fucking metaphorical red tent surrounded by girly girls who wore makeup and jewelry even while doing fieldwork. I'm pretty sure that they shared my conviction that if we had anything whatsoever in common it was sure as hell not related to gender. Then I imagine that instead of six weeks it's all year, and instead of being 25 I'm an impressionable college freshman, and gosh, this gender-inclusive dorm option is really going to be an enormous relief to some people.

So obviously that's why the headline needs to be "Oregon colleges allow couples to be roommates." For fuck's sake, The Oregonian. Really.

Posted by dianna at 10:09 AM