Friday, February 29, 2008

belated: the just oscars

This is rather late, but I actually watched the Oscars this year, and had actually seen some of the films up for awards. I even organized our studios' Oscar Party (which some of us left, because it was too damn loud to hear anything). I was particularly invested in seeing Once get an award (especially next to that cloying, trite crap from Enchanted). And Juno (I loved seeing Diablo up there). And No Country for Old Men (LOVED it). So I was ecstatic to see all three do so well.

Two things gave me pause:

1) Steve asking me why the Academy had preserved the strange gender divide in awards (which I later saw Feministing question, as well).

2) My realization around the time that they announced Best Actor, that if someone wrote a screenplay entitled No Country For Old Women, it would probably involve a Golden-Girl-esque exploration of menopause, grandchildren, and, possibly, if it were a drama rather than a comedy, cancer. Which is bothering the *hell* out of me. Why don't we tell ourselves more stories about women (and not just young, pretty women) doing mythic things like stealing drug money and drilling oil fields? Why the hell *not*?

And as an aside, what's with the turn toward the allegorical in Hollywood? Not that I'm complaining.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

honey + chocolate

I just ate a choxie honey truffle, and I feel like a complete hedonist.

Except for the imminent return to reading Sybil by Disraeli -- which makes me feel like a masochist. Who the hell starts a novel with 1) a series of characters introduced too quickly and with too little development to remember them all, 2) a *horse race* that is *impossible* to visualize, and seems to compound the fact that we can't picture the characters yet, let alone an entire field of horses, and 3) a third chapter that is basically a history of Britain's monarchy and parliament since the Great Revolution?! *Seriously* Disraeli, you needed to read more Victorian novels: you would have gotten the *pattern* of a successful beginning down.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

always with the zombie dreams

I woke up this morning from *another* zombie dream. In fact, I think I was in process with it when my alarm went off, and that I slipped back into it when I turned the alarm off. Meaning that I got to see the post-zombified world, and that I slept in. I assume this happened because I was talking to Bridget about weird dreams yesterday, and that I read a NYT review of Romero's Diary of the Dead film. This particular variation on the dream involved being with I don't even know who, in a house/hotel room, and gradually fighting off the approaching masses. Pretty basic plot line. Unfortunately, any children involved become zombies. I'm not sure what happened, but I somehow managed to avoid becoming undead. (I think it involved flying -- don't ask me why for this brief moment me and the other escapees realized everyone had wings -- and then realizing that flying was rather conspicuous, and that walking on the margins of groups was safer.) And I'm guessing that part 2 was what happened after: I remember going through a cafeteria line, and recognizing another "nonzombie." I don't think the post zombie world was all that different, except that people in public spaces were even duller, and, at least in the cafeteria line, made purry growly hungry noises. Which I also had to start making to avoid suspicion. Anyways, I remember getting a sandwich and piece of cake, and moving on. Then I was entering something like a hotel room (I'm assuming my apartment?), when a zombie from the cafeteria passed me, and I was flustered, and was kind of laughing about something, and he turned and said that I was giddy, and that I wasn't turned. I didn't have my room opened yet, so I booked it down the hall. He locked all the other doors -- and here my dream became textual, because I feel like I could *see* the word "click" on the page as he went down the hall to each door -- while I flew down flight after flight of concrete steps, trying to get some distance before he entered the stairwell. And then I woke up, luckily, because things weren't really going so well for me.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

the wildcat from oregon

In The Way We Live Now, which is now my favorite Trollope novel, a young man (Paul Montague) is trying to extricate himself from an engagement because he's heard stories about his former sweetheart's former life in the wild west -- stories that don't jive with his current image of an ideal wife (ie, the innocent, inexperienced Hetta). So when he confronts the former love interest (Mrs. Hurtle), she explains her past conduct. Yes, she shot a man in Oregon -- but he would otherwise have assaulted her. Yes, she left her husband -- but he was drunk and mean and the laws of Kansas granted her a divorce. That was all by way of set up for the best line:

"She had at any rate saved him the trouble of telling the story, but in doing so had left him without a word to say. She had owned to shooting the man. Well, it certainly may be necessary that a woman should shoot a man -- especially in Oregon." (364)


Thursday, February 07, 2008

My favorite passage from John Stuart Mill's Autobiography, as he discovers music to be the remedy for his melancholy:

The good however was much impaired by the thought, that the pleasure of music (as is quite true of such pleasure as this was, that of mere tune) fades with familiarity, and requires either to be revived by intermittence, or fed by continual novelty. And it is very characteristic both of my then state, and of the general tone of my mind at this period of my life, that I was seriously tormented by the thought of the exhaustibility of musical combinations. The octave consists only of five tones and two semitones, which can be put together in only a limited number of ways, of which but a small proportion are beautiful: most of these, it seemed to me, must have been already discovered, and there could not be room for a long succession of Mozarts and Webers, to strike out as these had done, entirely new and surpassingly rich veins of musical beauty. This source of anxiety may perhaps be thought to resemble that of the philosophers of Laputa, who feared lest the sun should be burnt out. (119)

I used to feel like this about stories. Now I feel it about finding a dissertation proposal.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

when jon stewart isn't on...

The weekend means that new episodes of A Daily Show are hard to come by. Fortunately, Andrew has pointed me toward something that is equally effective in making me laugh, although less effective in giving me a break from reading.

I give you... Dickipedia.

On Cheney:

In 1963, with the draft board ramping up, Cheney enrolled in Casper Community College (one of the finest institutions of higher-learning in Southwest Casper), and received his first student deferment. Later that year, he got his second student deferment. In August of 1964, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, escalating American military involvement. Twenty-two days later, Dick married his wife, and a few months later received his third deferment. In July, 1965, President Johnson announced he would double the number of the number of draftees. Cheney moved quickly, entered graduate school that year, and received his fourth student deferment. This was quite a sacrifice, as grad school is known to be extremely boring. Cheney received a “hardship exemption" in 1966 when he and his wife conceived their first child. By the next year, he was no longer eligible for the draft. It had been a long process, but Cheney learned a valuable lesson: if you get in a jam, you can usually get out of it by fucking somebody.

On Rudy:

In 1983, Giuliani was inflicted on New York, becoming the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Here Giuliani invented the "perp walk," the practice of parading unconvicted suspects in front of the media, which had been previously contacted by Giuliani’s office. Giuliani would often do this for cases in which he knew that there was little or no evidence, but did it anyway to mete out punishment to those he disliked...

Many psychologists believe the insatiable need to humiliate and degrade others in order to enhance one’s own image stems from deep-seated sexual insecurity. Given the sexual nature of sadism, it is unsurprising that, if conditions remain constant, the sexual thrill the sadist receives will diminish over time. Therefore in order to receive the same sexual stimulation, the deviant will seek to gradually but continually increase his power to humiliate and degrade.

Accordingly, Giuliani set his sights on becoming Mayor.

On Reagan:

After losing Presidential nominations in ’72 and ’76, Reagan finally out-dicked rivals Bob Dole and George H.W. Bush to become his party’s candidate in 1980. He kicked off his campaign by giving a speech in Philadelphia, Mississippi, the place three civil rights workers had been famously murdered in the ’60’s, advocating “states' rights.” Instead of starting a riot, everyone just elected Reagan President. Times had changed...

In the early 80’s, President Reagan illegally sold arms to America’s once and future dick enemy, Iran. Reagan used the profits to fund the Contras, Nicaraguan rebels. They, in turn, used the money to kill more Nicaraguans. Reagan then pretended not to remember what he did. His role in this act inadvertently led to the worst show ever created: Equal Time with Paul Begala and Oliver North.

He was nicknamed "The Great Communicator" for his uncanny and unique ability to communicate to the average person the need to kick single, black mothers off welfare.

And my *favorite* bit on Reagan:

His famed supply-side economic policies have been variously referred to as “Reaganomics,” “trickle down economics,” “voodoo economics” and “can you spare some change, sir?”

His inaction during the early stages of the AIDS epidemic also led to the “trickle down” of autoimmune disease, and, eventually, to the movie version of Rent.