Saturday, June 30, 2007

You must wake up--Paprika


This one's for Matt, maybe B if she ever swings by and maybe Musing.

OMG! Paprika

Just saw it this afternoon--really glad we went to a theater. I've only ever seen Satoshi Kon's other works on the small screen.

For anyone else who cares, SK is another anime director (besides Hayao Miyazaki). I stumbled onto him quite by accident because his TV show Paranoia Agent was playing late at night. I would catch a few episodes and then miss some but I was very impressed. Then L'Arc (it all comes back to L'Arc, just deal with it) has a song called Perfect Blue and SK made a film called Perfect Blue that came out around the same time. I still think that Tetsu based his lyrics on the film, but I've found nothing to support that. Anyway, we requested Perfect Blue from Netflix, and we've been hooked. We quickly got Millennium Actress and then caught by chance, Tokyo Godfathers on TV.

With the exception of Tokyo Godfathers all of his films break the notion of reality. In Millennium Actress for instance we will think that we are watching a piece of the actress's life only to pull back and realize that it's a film set, or is it. In some ways Paprika is the most mind-bending, but in some ways I found it more straightforward than Perfect Blue or Millennium Actress. The subject this time is literally dreams. Scientists have developed a machine to record dreams. Not only that, but another user can actually enter the dreams of the subject and help them resolve issues. It is meant to be a tool for therapy, but three of the devices have been stolen. We wonder in and out of dreams accompanied by the sprite, Paprika, alter ego of Dr. Chiba, the therapist on the project.

Visually, well, what can I say. The animation is exquisite. Matt once mentioned that his characters look the most like real Japanese people and with a few exceptions I would say that's true. Where does the mad scientist in Japan come from? It's a trope of anime. A quirky cross between Elmer Fudd and Albert Einstein, always with glasses--sometimes no eyes, just glasses. Aside from that the people are, well, people. This is not always so in anime.
Beyond that I can't even say. Visually there were a lot of elements of Akira, but also of all the big anime, Evangelion, Princess Mononoke but again, I've never seen anything like the major dream elements--the parade of objects, Japanese, European. The detail. I will also say that he repeatedly touches on themes that, from my limited understanding are taboo in Japan. Homosexuality for instance, obesity, madness itself. In other films (less in this one) the homeless, the disenfranchised. Paranoia Agent was not shown on prime-time TV in Japan because of it's subject matter. This from a country where business men read Hentai (pornographic comics) on the train on their way to work.
What comes through loud and clear in all of his work is a dislike of repression--a need to face one's demons no matter what they are. As in Paranoia Agent repression has caused the subconscious to become manifest in the real world. And finally when all of the obvious suspects have been revealed it is our heroine herself who must face her own desires. Surprisingly the past often forgives us as well.
I'm babbling a bit. It's a movie I need to see again, and soon. Trust me I've said that of only a few films in my life.
P.S.
I am crazy about the soundtrack by Susumu Hirasawa, same as Paranoia Agent

Follow up

I wrote that in my head earlier and then I read an audience review of Ratatouille, about how maybe children shouldn't be told they can be anything when not everyone has the same talents.

Maybe I should forgive myself for not being a doctor or a lawyer. Maybe I should forgive myself for not having written a book yet, or maybe accept that I may never write a book. Maybe I should try to do things for pleasure besides video games and see how that feels.

This sort of ties into that post I had about Maddy Gaiman. I just felt enormous pressure as a child/teenager to do great things because I had this "early" talent. I don't know if that pressure was there or if I just felt that it was there. Maybe I should forgive my mother too.

Night Blooming Lilly

I had a small shock this week. I was thumbing through The Phoenix, a weekly free mag. for the young and hip that my husband had brought home and they had a column on new books and there was my college roommate's name. Which is doubly funny because I had just been speaking about her. We got along OK--not great. It even had her picture which I hadn't even realized when I first looked at the article (when I get to a scanner on Monday I'll scan it with a picture of her from college--she hasn't changed much). The book is called What You Call Winter, and it's a collection of short stories about a Catholic town in India. Her name is Nalini Jones (which made us the room of unpronounceable first names and really simple last names). Nalini means Night Blooming Lilly.

Beyond the surprise I wasn't actually as upset as I feared I might be. For one thing, I knew that she'd had short stories published and that she had gotten a book publisher. She did all the "right" things--masters in creative writing, professorship. But I am surprised that I'm taking it so well, when I've had to stop reading the back of the alumni magazine because of the deep funk it would cause. I don't like her writing. I will say that, and I have read one of the recent short stories, but it is in a genre I'm not that fond of. I don't like a lot of "popular" short stories.

I was punched in the stomach last week when I heard about the accomplishments of the other recipients of a scholarship I had. They were all doctor's and lawyers except for one artist. I think to myself, "I never, ever wanted to be a doctor or layer so why should it upset me that others have done what they planned?" Is it because I feel guilty? Guilty that I SHOULD have done something "worthwhile" with my life as opposed to pursuing the arts? If so, then my mother's voice still controls my thinking, and I wish that were not so. She used to introduce me thus, "L could be a doctor or a lawyer with her brain, but she wants to go into the arts. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but she could do more."

Am I more okay with this because I have this "real job" now? I really don't know. I do know that I was playing a video game this morning and thought, "You know, I bet Nalini wrote in her free time instead of playing video games. You might want to consider that."

Four before midnight

To keep up my streak I need to write four posts before midnight.

Fortunately, I have several things I could write about.

In the total trivia category:

I had a bar inserted into my ear. Why, you may ask? Well, why not. I don't have a good reason--mid-life crisis, maybe. A fear of becoming too normal. I mentioned in the 36 things about me post that I had suddenly had the need to get a piercing in my ear two years ago. I wanted this, but chickened out and basically just got the one at the back of the ear. From posts and blogs I've skimmed piercing (and tattooing) can become an addiction. Once the novelty of one wears off, you think, I need another. I just kept coming back to the idea and so have done it.

I suspect that it will not fit in with my new company's dress code, such as it is, but I can always wear my hair over it. So much for the neat up-do's I've been wearing, but I can always do that after work. I wanted to do this now because I figure it's going to take at least 6 weeks, possibly 8 to heal. After that I can leave them out at work functions or put in small rings or studs.

I'm pretty impressed with the picture as I took it myself with my camera phone while holding back my hair with the other hand.


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Brick

Film with Joseph Gordon-Levitt of Third Rock From the Sun. Written and directed by Rian Johnson.

The dilemma in reviewing/critiquing film, is just that--am I doing a simple review--this film was good and you should see it, or do I want to get into actual film criticism--this film was good in comparison to other films and here's why. The first should have as few spoilers as possible. The second may (depending on the reviewer) lay out every aspect of the plot, thus making it unlikely that you (the reader) will want to see the film any time soon.

I don't worry about this so much with books. If you want to read them, you will probably still read them. Since this film is two years old (and because I've been promising myself that I would try to flex these muscles) I'll try and give a brief critique.

In order to enjoy this film one must, first and foremost, buy into the conceit of the film, which is a film noir set in a modern high school. The characters speak as though they are in noir (my husband was not in the mood for this and left), they behave as in noir--somewhat free of the constraints and clutter of the real world, and the archetypes of noir are present:
The jaded and cynical loner, wounded in the past and hardened to avoid hurt again
The intelligent and helpful sidekick
The thug
The seemingly evil guy who just turns out to be wp/wt (wrong place/wrong time) and almost blows it all
The cool and clever villain
and
the women...

There's always a woman; there's usually two. I think the most "women" I ever saw in a film noir was in Out of the Past, the fewest--Double Indemnity {sidenote--most of the insurance people I work with have never seen DI. I find that somewhat upsetting}. This one has two (and a peripheral third). A blond and a brunette.

Our anti-hero, a tight-jawed and narrow eyed Brendon Frye, finds the blond face down in a culvert or overflow tunnel. Flash back to two days earlier when the blond calls him in a panic and the story begins, winding through teenage pregnancy, drug sellers and bricks of heroin before the murderer is brought to justice in true noir fashion.

When I say free of the clutter of the real world I mean that there never seem to be as many people around in a film noir as one would think there should be. In this, there is a notable absence of any adults for almost a third of the film and then there are only two--the villain's mother and the vice-principal who speaks to our hero like this:
Assistant VP Gary Trueman: You've helped this office out before.
Brendan Frye: No, I gave you Jerr to see him eaten, not to see you fed.
and "cuts a deal" to give Brendan "room" to "bring in some meat." Any authority in your high school ever give you that much space?

As to the mother, she seems completely content with having some 30 young men in her house at 4 in the morning, half dressed like James Dean (white T-shirts, jeans) and the other half dressed like extras in The Godfather. I'll come back to this point later.

On the one hand it is a conceit, but on the other it seemed to reflect the feeling we have in high school--of being alone, adults seemingly on another planet, being "in" and hip the only thing important.

The film is shot in color, but as close to black and white as possible. Even when there is color--the red of a dress, the brown shag carpeting, it reinforces the neutral palette rather than detracting. It also echos the color schemes of later film-noirs such as Chinatown and even The Godfather. This may be southern California, but it is a washed out version.

Strangely enough, the film this reminded me of the most though, was David Lynch's Blue Velvet (despite BV's technicolor palette) with it's sense of having fallen through the normal, safe world into a disturbing and violent one that may or may not exist beneath every lovely exterior. In that same vein, it echoed Twin Peaks--these sordid lives being lived by teenagers under the noses of absent adults.

The director has an excellent eye. The shots are intriguing and well thought out (and would require another viewing for me to break down). In one scene Brendon is using a full-length
pivoting mirror to reflect light into a basement (he's as clever and ingenious as any noir hero), when he is rushed by the thug (named Tug). The mirror spins wildly on it's pivot catching the light and the camera lingers on it as the two boys scuffle.

There were only a few moments that, for me, really did not fit in the fine balance between homage and high school that the director otherwise captured. The first is the introduction of "the woman." She's sitting at a piano in a red Chinese Cheongsam, playing a tune and reciting the words of The Moon and I from the Mikado (which so hauntingly ends Topsy Turvy). Ok, it's a great song, and it sets her up as the femme-fatale, red dress and all (think Barbara Stanwyk's white/blond hair in DI, or Lauren Bacall leaning against the piano in Key Largo), but no high school girl, no matter how popular could get away with reciting that at her party. I'm sorry. Maybe if she were some crazy, drama school chick, but popular kids eat their own. Bizarrely, she's in Chinese garb saying a song from a "Japanese" operetta written by an Englishman. Later we get the peripheral girl dressed in full Geisha garb but she at least is in theater. She is also briefly dressed as Sally Bowles of Cabaret.

I already mentioned the villain's overly cheerful mother--is this woman sampling his heroin? The villain was played by Lucas Haas, which adds another whole layer to the meaning.

And finally, the intricate plots, frames and double-crosses are just not possible in the world of CSI. Even though real forensics cannot work the miracles of it's television counterparts, it is still not possible for our hero to walk away unscathed. He has hidden a body and then planted it, touched the murder weapon, been everywhere--bleeding much of the time and as much as confessed to a person of authority that he needed time to investigate. He also takes and throws an impressive number of punches and gets up again, knuckles intact (although his kick's to the legs and a particularly memorable act of tripping are fantastic). Again, it requires a large acceptance and immersion in the world the director is creating.

But, what is finally the strength of Brick is the writing--if you suspend disbelief, the writing is nearly as sharp as Dashiell Hammett. It is also quite funny. There are some brilliant put downs and exchanges.
Brad Bramish: Hey! What are you doing here?
Brendan Frye: Just listening. [long pause while Brad stares at him]
Brendan Frye: All right, you got me. I'm a scout for the Gophers. Been watching your game for a month, but that story right there just clenched it. You got heart kid. How soon can you be in Minneapolis?
Brad Bramish: Yeah?
Brendan Frye: Cold winters, but they got a great transit system.
Brad Bramish: Yeah?
Brendan Frye: Yeah.
Brad Bramish: Oh, yeah?
Brendan Frye: There's a thesaurus in the library. Yeah is under "Y". Go ahead, I'll wait.


Brendan Frye: Still picking your teeth with freshmen?
Kara: Well, you were a freshman once.
Brendan Frye: Way-once, sister.

{Sidenote: once I would have had to troll through the film hitting pause, rewind to get that--now someone's done it for me at IMDB. And before that I would have had to sit in a dark theater with a flashlight watching the film over and over again. 'Da internet, folks, bringing trivia to you when you need it.}

Think of "You know how to whistle don't you? Just put your lips together and blow." The writing is reinforced with an intricate but well thought out plot and by the conviction of the young actors, most notably Godon-Levitt, whom I've enjoyed since Third Rock. I am tempted, horribly to compare it to Bugsy Malone, but BM was young actors acting like adults as opposed to laying the adult language over this high school world.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

And Now for Something Completely Different

From A Man for All Seasons, by Robert Bolt

Setting - Sir Thomas More has declined to employ Richard Rich, who has just left the room.

Wife: Arrest him!
More: For what?
Wife: He's dangerous!
Roper: For all we know he's a spy!
Daughter: Father, that man's bad!
More: There's no law against that!
Roper: There is, God's law!
More: Then let God arrest him!
Wife: While you talk he's gone!
More: And go he should, if he were the Devil himself, until he broke the law!
Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat?
This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down (and you're just the man to do it!), do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?
Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!


My husband sent me this. They've been playing AMfaS a great deal, probably to cash in on Showtime's The Tudors (history by way of Danielle Steele, first Rome now Tudor England. American Civil War next, perhaps?). The power of Bolt's language met by the force of Paul Scofield's acting (one of the few avowed Method actors I really enjoy). What Bolt knew, and perhaps Thomas Moore as well is that you do not solve the world's evils by thinking anyone is outside the protection of the law. Timely? Perhaps...
And the law is protection. It's easy to forget that. Protection for us and for "Them." I am reminded of the true meaning of manners, well encapsulated in that other bit of fluff--"Blast From the Past."
Troy: ... He said, good manners are just a way of showing other people we have respect for them. See, I didn't know that, I thought it was just a way of acting all superior. Oh and you know what else he told me?
Eve: What?
Troy: He thinks I'm a gentleman and you're a lady.
Eve: [disgusted] Well, consider the source! I don't even know what a lady is.
Troy: I know, I mean I thought a "gentleman" was somebody that owned horses. But it turns out, his short and simple definition of a lady or a gentleman is, someone who always tries to make sure the people around him or her are as comfortable as possible.

Adam: Manners are a way of showing other people we care about them.

People forget that today. That laws and manners are to protect others as well as ourselves in the hopes that they will in turn do the same for you. And if they do not you should rise above them. Sound familiar? The Golden Rule AND Turn the Other Cheek.

If one person's right to a fair trial is violated, then who gets one? If we torture because "they do it to our boys," then what have we become?

I haven't done politics on here for the same reason I have avoided religion. Not because I do not care, but because I care so deeply I don't want to trivialize it and I fear that I am not qualified, but when I can use other, greater words, I will.

John Adams, who defended British soldiers in the Boston massacre for the same reason as Moore stated also said:

In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress.

It is important to remember that the law is not lawyers, any more than God is his followers.

I wasn't going to make this a separate post but...

Blogger has eaten my add on TWICE! TWICE! NAN DE O????

Anyway as an addendum to the below, I realize that that post (and by extension, this one) are only interesting to two of my friends. I am worried that the "non-gay" Hyde wishes to emulate a man who famously said that one of his fantasy's was to be manhandled by British soldiers.

After posting (the fact that this new job has no firewall between me and Blogger could be a bad thing) I was heading home and thought, "Should I listen to Dead or Alive?" (I'd already listened to L'Arc) and listened to this instead for obvious reasons:



Ah, Information Society--most famous for sampling from the Original Star Trek. The album is surprisingly solid, slightly repetitious (no pun intended as there is a song called Repetition) but danceable and well made.

OMG--TOTAL Fangirling now

Remember this blog

http://noveleye.blogspot.com/2007/05/isnt-it-weird-when-its-in-air.html

where I said that Hyde was channelling Pete Burns of Dead or Alive. I haven't searched the L'Arc-o-sphere for a long time, one or two sites where I go for news, but a quick search for something else led to a translation of comments on L'Arc's new single (which I linked to last month) and Hyde SAYS that he wanted to do a Dead or Alive type of song! OMG! OMG! And that he gave it to Yuki to mix (well wanted the Yuki techno treatment). I thought Yuki had written the music the first time I heard it.

Yes, I am a sad fangirl.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Nightmare

Even though I'm pushing my window, and I will be tired (and probably late) tomorrow I really have to write this. I've told two people, and I'm still processing it.
I had a nightmare last night. I have nightmares a lot and so does my husband. We both flail and yell and he's smacked me more than a few times. We also both remember our dreams in general more than many people I know.

You know how in dreams you can be in a completely wild house and yet you know it's your house, or likewise a shopping mall or a school even though they are nothing like reality? This wasn't like that. I was in my apartment and it really was this apartment. The only difference was that there was a dark blue curtain hanging in the doorway of the kitchen at the end of the hall which my husband and I have discussed doing, but have not done. In the dream I was getting ready for work as I usually do after my husband has already left. I was in the bathroom and the light was the same, the layout was the same. I stepped out into the hall to go put my dog in the bedroom where we keep him during the day. The family room and library (dining room) were dark as they often are when the curtains are drawn, esp. with no light coming from the kitchen but I could sense their space and the furniture just as in reality. Suddenly a man in a mask put his face through the curtain. He was wearing a cheap, silver Ultraman mask that I had bought my husband years ago as a ha ha. We've thrown it away since but here this man was, wearing it and moving like Doug Jones as Abe Sapien in Hellboy--that is like a man in a mask. One moment he was looking through the curtain and the next he was next to me grabbing my wrist. And I was FROZEN. I couldn't move; I couldn't scream. With a huge effort of will I screamed and pulled...
and woke up still yelling and spasming. It was one of the most frightening dreams I can remember in ages because the house was so real--like a vision. As I often do when I have nightmares (something I learned long ago--I recommend you tell your children if they are troubled by nightmares) is to drift back down and try to change the outcome of the dream, even if you are semi-conscious. I tried to think if I got free, what would I do. The door has two locks and would take too long. I would run to the bedroom, slam and lock the door and pull my nightstand in front of it. Then what? Climb out the front window and try to land on the roof over the entrance? or fall into the dirt and shrubbery (we're on the second floor)? Open the side window and scream for my landlord's employees (his business is in the lot next door)? Would they hear me if it were winter and they were inside? Basically I was trying to convince myself that I wouldn't be so powerless if I really were attacked, but we can never know that in advance, can we?

My other dilemma is that I don't know where this comes from. When I accepted this job I had nightmares for a week about being in class unprepared, missing class. Performance anxiety--very understandable. I can usually figure out the triggers for dreams but I can't think why I would have dreamt this. Last King of Scotland was terrifying, but not at all like this. The only thing I can think of is the Stephen King story which was, like most of his stories, about an ordinary person thrust into a terrifying situation but I read that a week ago. I know I sometimes have dreams from gory movies, but mainly my screaming thrashing nightmares are about bugs. Hoards of bugs that must be brushed off, bugs the size of Shetland Sheep Dogs, humanoid bugs taking over the earth. There are reasons for that, but I won't go into them here. I also used to dream of losing my teeth. One would be loose and I'd wiggle it and the others would just topple like domino's. I read that that indicates unstable finances. I'm happy to say I haven't had that dream in a while.

Why in my home? Why the mask? I still don't know. If anyone has heard of symbolism connected with this, I'd love to hear it.

More on lying

Mirror (who is one of the most honest people I know) commented to ask if I've seen Liar Liar. Yes, and love it. It brings up another question--where is the line between telling the truth when asked and over-sharing. Blurting out truths that no one wants to hear. Like hearing that someone is attracted to you either because you are so completely not attracted to them, or because doing anything about the attraction would be foolish and selfish. Or personal secrets and facts.

Is it lying if it is false, but to the best of your knowledge at the time--whether from forgetfulness or lack of self-knowledge or simply lack of all the facts--it was the truth?

First day

Well, I've started my new job. First day went like most first days--setting up the desk, learning the systems, finding out if I could order supplies (I can). I already knew where the bathroom and kitchen were. There was panic that I'm in over my head, frustration that people weren't there to point me in a direction, more panic that I will have to find my own direction and then calm as I simply started doing things.

Come on in, the water's fine.

File under using your education well

I remembered that I have used Je me souviens myself. Back when I was collecting lit. mags., I entered a contest at Rosebud Magazine. I must have been the only entrant because they published all of my entries. It was for titles of Bogus Best Sellers:

Je me tienne un biscuit et je me souviens rien (I hold a cookie and I remember nothing)/Abreger une histoire longue, tant pis! (To make a long story short, too late!)--Marcel Proust

Some of my others were:

Hey, You! Put Back My Cheese!--Johnson/Blanchard

Spaghettios for the Soul: 101 Stories of Closed Minds and Crushed Spirits

Chicken Soup for the Psychopath's Soul: 101 Stories that drop the meds and rekindle the voices

The Italian Grandmother: Mange, Mange!--Mario Puzo

Any Day Now the Rabbi Will Convert--Harry Kemelman

Rabbit Takes Viagra--John Updike

The Inscrutables/The Indefatigables (A Two Volume Set)--Henry James

Sunday, June 24, 2007

God, I can't stop

Just a follow-up. Neil Gaiman's daughter is writing his blog. She's on the set of the latest Hellboy being cosseted by Guillermo del Toro and Selma Blair. She's clearly quite precocious. On the one hand--how cool is that--I'm jealous. On the other, having been a precocious and cosseted child, I wish that people had been more honest with me. There comes a point when you will not be clever for your age--will not be the kid it's fun to humor, but just another adult. I think the whole self-esteem movement is actually making kid's self-esteem worse. I think I would have been better off if more people had said, "You aren't good at this--you have to work at it. This is good for a 12 year old but next year you'll have to do better." I got to rest on my laurels and I never learned to work hard or to fail. This probably won't happen to Gaiman's daughter, but I see it happening to other young people I know. Or I'm just blaming other people for my problems. I don't know how you go about doing both--keeping self-esteem, but teaching that there will always be people better than you. That's why I don't have kids.

One more and then I must stop

While in Canada we bought a copy of Esquire.

As it says on the cover, "Some Angie, a little King..what else does a man need for summer?"

So yes, we bought it because of the photos of Angelina Jolie and the short story by Stephen King. We bought it in Canada because my husband was worried that it might actually be sold out by the time we got back (it's not). The three photos of Angie are awesome but the article is terrible. The King is good, but not great.

Anyway, there's an article in it about the concept of Radical Honesty. I think I had vaguely heard of this, but not really looked into it. Basically it's a system/movement started by a guy named Brad Blanton who proposes that we would all be happier if we just stopped lying. All together. Completely.

Not even little white lies to make other people feel better. He says all lies are designed to disguise ourselves. In theory it sounds great, but then, so does communism. A little warning light goes off in my mind when I learn the guy has been married FIVE times. I'm not sure how many of those are after he began/found this movement. He says that people will be hurt by your honesty, but if you stay with them after the hurt, you can build a better relationship, help them and help yourself.

I lie. Less than I used to, but more than I'd like. I lied yesterday to get out of something (and I'm not going to tell you what). Like my quote says at the top. I think I'm honest with myself (but I wouldn't know, would I?). I generally believe in more honesty than less. Tying in with the previous post, I don't feel that J and D are very honest with themselves--that their friendships are lies in a way. I have often worked with women and men (mostly women) who talk about how they hate conflict, avoid it, "why can't everyone just get along," but what they really do is smother their resentments and become passive/aggressive. I'd rather work with a flat out bitch than the passive/ aggressive. At least you know where you stand and how to behave. With the p/a it's always like walking on eggshells--where is the aggression going to come out. And it lingers--forever. If you are honest but polite, it hurts for a bit but it passes. All out anger is not a condition that can be sustained. Resentment--seething beneath--is always present. Rip the band-aid off, leap in the cold water. That said, would I really be able to take it if the honesty were dished in my direction? Or would I curl up into a ball. If someone really said, "You're a mediocre actress. You're fat. You're annoying. You'll never do anything with your life because you are lazy and undisciplined. You think you dress with flair but really you just look silly."

Likewise would any of my friends recover if I said, "Your writing is amateur and self-absorbed. You smell. You dress like you stopped buying clothes in 1978. You do this to yourself over and over again."

Now, Blanton does teach how to do this--rather like the system one learns in basic therapy. When you do this, I feel... I resent how you... It makes me angry when you... He also recommends admitting physical attraction whenever it comes up and also discussing ugliness. Those two worry me--a) because once something is known it often becomes more fascinating. In one of the truisms of my mother, "It's always flattering to know someone likes you--it makes them more fascinating than they might have been." And b) what if the ugliness is beyond their control? He believes that by discussing it openly you actually restore their self-esteem--this is who I am. I don't think I buy that.

I'm not sure where the middle ground is on this. Like I said, I feel I'm pretty honest at work--with bosses, etc. even if it means some conflict. I do lie to keep people liking me (even people I don't really like--as in the quote below) and sometimes to avoid repercussions--but less than I use to. I used to lie to seem smarter or better informed--I'm trying to break that habit as well. There are certainly friends I would like to be more honest with--to try and shake them out of ruts--paths I've been down with them before and I wonder if I'm helping them by being quiet. Maybe the friendship would suffer, but they might get free. Likewise if people were more honest with me I might be freer--know myself better.

And the next point

Jumping ahead for a moment. Looking at the bit on friends in the poem made me think of something I was thinking of last night at my friend's shower. The person throwing the shower has been friends with N since high school. I've been friends with N for 10 years. I mentioned R last month as someone I've been friends with since I was 15--for 20 years now. I've been friends with Red Queen since I was 18, so for half my life but Red Queen is about 15 years older than I am. Likewise with C. Most of my other friends I've had for five or six years.
When I was leaving my job my two female bosses mentioned that they had a core of friends that they'd been with since elementary school. I really can't even imagine that.
I ran away from the people with whom I went to elementary school. Now J is still in the same town where she grew up--went to state college two hours away--probably with all the same people and she's only 30, so it makes sense. But D is 65 and has lived all over the place with a husband who was a minister so that's a little more extraordinary. I don't know what this says about me or them. I know when I get together with friends I haven't seen in a while I have a great time, but I often feel as if I don't have the energy for a lot of friends. AND I like my friends better one on one rather than in a group. Plus my friends all seem to come from disparate circles. I have trouble throwing parties because I feel like when I'm making the invites I'm thinking A and B will get along well and B and C will, but if B doesn't come, A and C will simply sit and stare at one another. In theory I think all of my friends will adore everyone else, but it never works out like that. J's friends are friends in a clump. Likewise D's. It's as if the clump perpetuates itself while one on one is easier to lose hold of. I guess because the group can be everyone or a portion of the whole--people may drop in and out, but in one on one if someone drops out, even for a little bit, it's harder to find the thread. Effort must be made on both sides.

I don't know this, but I also suspect that J's and D's friendships are somewhat more superficial (which is uncharitable I know) just based on their friendships with me. I don't particularly feel that I could share anything really deep with them--they seem to be waiting for conversation to turn back to the easy. I don't like friendships like that. I don't really consider them friendships.

My friend A (Mirror's wife) was recently brilliant in a play called "sic," by Melissa James Gibson. The play had flaws (says the woman who has yet to finish a play) and I didn't like the set--but that's me, but the language (and it was most assuredly a play about language) was both realistic and somehow hyper-real. I don't think people talk like that but they think like that so what they were saying was terribly familiar (if not always the way that it was said). I went with friend S and we both agreed that this passage was very real and very female (the script is written out like poetry, ellipses indicate other characters interrupting this conversation on a phone):

Well I like her
Or I want to like her
Because other people I like like her
But the truth is
I don't like her
...
But then I think Why don't I like her
Do I not like her because I think she doesn't like me
which I do think
or do I not like her because I can't relate to her intellectually
But if I can't relate to her intellectually is that because
she's smarter or Stupider OR are we in fact such intellectual equals
that we can't recognize the intelligence of the other so
blinded are we by the reflection of comparable thought
But frankly
...
I don't think that's it
and anyway the larger question is
Why Do I Want To Like Her
...
and I have to say that I don't think I actually have Any
Interest in liking her
I Just Want Her To Like Me
...
and and
of course the truly haunting aspect of all of this is that
All Of The People I Like Like Her
...
At The Same Time As They Like Me
so so
Where does the true affection lie and
well okay I guess I do recall ONE MOMENT when
I Thought I Liked Her when we happened to be in a bathroom at the same time and of course there was no toilet paper in the stall to which I had gravitated and she somehow physically sensed my predicament and passed some toilet paper to me under the stall and
in that moment
okay
I actually Loved Her but
...

This would make a pretty good audition monologue.

If I were auditioning

Which I'm not...

On traveling

Like I said I would like to travel more. I wrote this poem in college. I don't think anything has changed except now I'm approaching half of an average lifetime and I haven't added many, but now I've added two countries. My teacher didn't like it, and it is pretty simplistic, but I still like it (although I just tinkered with it).

Scenic Routes

Distances traveled are distances gained.
So I have been in sixteen states. Perhaps
seventeen. Around a third of the way.
Some landed in in planes, or driven through.
A mere in the way distance. In transit.
On the way. And some probed intimately from
side to side. Which brings the number that's known,
well, down to perhaps three. Or four. OK
for under a third of an average life,
or lifespan, because each lifespan, from three
months to one hundred and three--or four--years
is just someones lifetime--no more/ no less.
And I have known, or at any rate, met
perhaps a thousand people, although I've
seen, I think, a million unique faces
like a snowy day--if snowflake trackers
are to be trusted. And I have cared for
and considered as friends, maybe fifty.
But people with whom I have known; whose lives
I have listened to and ached for and tried
to understand? And realized were, yes,
as often sad, and sometimes glorious
as mine? Perhaps ten. And while that would seem
rather shoddy for just under a third
of an average lifetime. I am forced
to consider, whether distance traveled
is not ever, nearly so important
as vistas at which you come to stop.

Montreal--Je me souviens (or 4 Chinatowns!)

So we drove to Montreal. About 5.5 hours plus stopping for lunch on the way up. My husband has a cousin there and so had been as a child and teenager. I'd always wanted to go. Now this is going to sound really stupid on my part. I forgot they would be speaking French! I'd have definitely brushed up before I went if I'd remembered. Or at least brought my dictionary. Although if you said Hello to their Bonjour everyone would switch to English. Truly bi-lingual. Lovely. We kept trying to reach his cousin, but they didn't have an answering machine. They had probably gone down to New York.


The drive up was pleasant and uneventful (except for my ears hurting somewhere in Vermont leading to a scramble to find gum). I kept thinking we should get gas before we got to Canada where it would be more expensive--remember that. We kept driving in and out of little showers that would sprinkle the car and then dissipate. Until we were 20 minutes into Canada when the heavens opened up. Nothing like trying to drive in a downpour in a country where you can't read the signs. My husband just pulled over and waited. It was funny to me to see what I remembered (avec le lait, s'il-vous plait) and what I didn't (what does Sortie mean? I dunno, but it's on all of the doors that aren't marked Entree--Oh!) I kept trying to translate the slogan on the license plates, Je me souviens. It means "I'm remembering." I thought it was just sort of touristy--like the Pennsylvania slogan is "Memories Last a Lifetime." {Side note--looked up motto's first instead of slogans found out that Kansas is "To the Stars Through Adversity," WTF? and Maine is "I Direct." Bizarre}


So, it turns out that je me souviens is more a motto than a slogan and there is some debate as to what is being remembered--not the beauty of Quebec, apparently. More like "I remember what the British did to the French," etc. And yet, there was a Rue de Wellington. J'oublie, apparently.


Speaking of language, the me souviens is what is known as a reflexive verb. This is the piece of French I really had trouble with, not the genders of inanimate objects. I'm not sure why. I could just never remember to add it in before I reached the verb while speaking. Partially because it seemed unnecessary half the time. Like se laver means to wash and the reflexive tells who/what you are washing. Je me lave--I wash myself. Ok, that seems necessary. But then doesn't it sound like me souviens should be I remember myself? And if it doesn't mean that, then why do you need it? Ah, the joy of being able to say about 6 things in 5 languages. I know something, but I don't know much.


About 5 miles from Montreal the "You really, really need to get gas" light starts flashing. Problem is there's a 5 mile back up of traffic over the bridge. We start to panic. There's also all this highway construction and signs for an airport. We finally get to an exit that doesn't seem to be going to the airport--busy commercial road--looks good. Drive, and drive--gas station on other side of divided road, not so good. Finally see one on our side just as we are about to try to turn around--cut across traffic, get gas, all's good. We cut back across traffic to turn around when I see a familiar green and red logo! KRISPY KREME! IN CANADA! OMG! We used to have one about 1 mile from our house but Krispy Kreme had trouble fighting Dunkin Donuts in New England and it closed. We miss it. It's hard to express how excited we both were about this. Well, there was no way to cut back for it then. Vous souvenez-vous!


We arrived at our lovely hotel and had a really nice vacation. Montreal is a beautiful city and the weather was pleasant (a little warm for my husband but still walkable). We had no real plans. We just bought a guide book on Sunday night and marked some likely things. Mainly just walked around enjoying the French and the little parks and the gelato. We walked our legs off--it's not San Francisco, but there's definitely enough of a slope to work the glutes and calves. Went to Notre Dame de Montreal and the art museum which was free (like England!) Passed on the Biodome because the reviews were mixed and it seemed to be geared for children. Again because I live in Boston all these expensive cities don't seem that expensive. Late in the afternoon we would come back and hit the pool and the hot tub. I can now add another Chinatown to my list--four in one year. I took a picture of the gate to commemorate.
And picture of husband being silly!

When I was a child I thought I would lead a life of travel--finances have kept that at a minimum until recently. I'm hoping this will be the start of a trend.

It was the perfect amount of time for us, really. We hit the art museum on Wednesday morning after we'd checked out and loaded the car. Planning to be back in Mass. around 7:30, 8. One last stop--to the Krispy Kreme--to spend our last $10 Canadian (except for the $2 and $1 coin we brought back as souvenirs) and bought some more gum with our change. Get on the highway and drive...and drive...

Shouldn't we be seeing signs for Vermont? This doesn't look familiar... Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we were so relaxed we were driving along Autoroute Dix in Cananda for about 1/2 an hour before we realized we'd missed our exit. Looking at Google Earth now I can see that we were moving parallel to the border. If we had had a map, we probably could have just turned right and taken another road, but instead we retraced our steps and caught up with highway 89. So that added about an hour. We did discover the town of Magog which my husband thought quite funny--I'm surprised he didn't take a picture. Then we were a little shell-shocked so we stopped in Vermont and ate at a Friendly's instead of grabbing a burger as we had planned--another hour. Made for a rather long day, but since we had nowhere in particular to be and nothing to do the next day it wasn't too bad.

The English Language

I wish I were more specific in my speaking. I really do. I go back over these things and realize that an omitted comma has made my sentences vague and confusing.

My husband and I had a funny exchange the Saturday before we went to Montreal. We were running around doing errands including dropping the house-key off with my friend and pet-sitter. On the way there I said that we should get more dog food "...before we go," meaning, sometime Saturday (we were leaving Sunday morning). I had earlier said we should fill the tank with gas before we go, again meaning sometime in the next 24 hours.

Him: What good would that do?

Me: What do you mean? Aren't we close to being out? I don't want to leave M worrying she's going to run out of food.

Him: What? But if we have it, what good would it do M?

Me: Why would we have it? What are you talking about?

What he had understood me to mean was, literally before we go--as we are leaving Somerville and taking to the highway--therefore taking a bag of dog food to Canada with us. What's funny is we actually did end up getting gas literally before we went--on the way out of town just because that's when we passed a gas station, but we did buy the dog food on Saturday.

Now, could I have made that sentence more clear. Yes--"We should buy some dog food now and take it home." "We should buy some dog food today." But those are unwieldy and unlikely to be used in conversation. Was I using incorrect English? No, but again, it is in the nature of spoken language to be sometimes indefinite. Again I wonder about other languages. How do the Japanese keep track of things without personal pronouns (but an abundance of politesse?).

Obviously we explained ourselves and laughed and played with the image of taking a bag of dog food to Canada. Of poor M trying to ration out Guinness's food for the week, but my friend B has been writing a book for years about these types of miscommunication. Of what is wished (let us stop now and buy dog food) and what is expressed. The example I remember him giving was, wife says, "Are you hungry?" meaning I'm hungry. Husband says, "No." Wife seethes, resentments grow.

(Note to JT--we said we were leaving at 9 am. Hit the highway after getting gas and coffee--for husband, smoothie for me at 9:02! Hope I can continue that next week!)

The handbag and why it's important

I guess I'll kind of go back to the beginning and work forward.
I had been looking for a handbag for ages, but hadn't had any luck. The one I had (1950/60's style clutch with small handle) was showing wear, plus I was beginning to feel the need to have a slightly larger bag. What I wanted was one just like it, only slightly bigger. What I found were all slightly smaller. Or ghastly--with massive buckles and logos. Or outrageously priced. There was a bag I had liked in a Japanese store here that was shaped like a three sided pyramid with sort of backpack handles and a zipper down the middle of one side. Unfortunately it was in kimono silk and I was afraid that I would destroy it in no time. It was also $42 dollars--good for what it was, but more than I wanted to pay.

So I started to design one in my head. The pyramid was funkier than I've gone in awhile, but you can always pull of funky if you say you made it--really. Try it some time. I'm pretty proud of the result. There are things I'd fix on a second draft (because I foolishly never, ever do muslin's of things--d'oh), but I am pleased enough with it to think I might write it up for a design portfolio.
So here it is--sorry about the photo quality--I was going for speed. I made it out of upholstery fabric so hopefully it will last a little longer than the one of kimono silk. It zips in the middle instead of down the side, which was tricky to do. I finished the mini-pyramid at the top and it has a separate opening closed with snaps where I keep my car keys, clip-on sunglasses, chap stick, mints and hanky--things I might need fast. As you can see it has a little cell-phone pocket. I put the elasticized belt-clip holder I already had inside the pocket to grip it. You can't see it from the photo, but the black sides are actually two different geometric Jacquards. Half and half on each side. The handle can be pulled up to the top as a wrist strap, or pulled back down to sling over the shoulder. I also made a removable strap where I can wear it across the back and did that a lot walking in Montreal. There's a funky little trick where I put a gusset in the far edge so that I can unzip it and open it up more for easier access, but so far I haven't needed it. I was going to do pockets on the inside but I was so tired of working on it and I wanted to have it done before I left my last job to show people, that I didn't bother--an addition for Mock-2 (is that right? Mock/mach?--one would think it's for mock up two, not speed of sound 2...hmm) (addendum--asked my husband who said, "Why don't you just call it Version 2." He's so clever). Inside I sewed a d-ring and clipped my old Hyde lanyard clip to it with my house keys, flashlight, usb drive, and car beeper. I have my coffin shaped wallet and everything else (lipstick, SS card, seldom used membership cards, eye drops, etc.) went into a small cosmetics bag (which has skulls on it--heh, heh).
Obviously for the portfolio I will a) take better pictures, b) make some diagrams. In full-disclosure (which will NOT go in the portfolio) the under structure needs help. I put in that thin, cheap craft foam and spot stitched it in places. Were I to do it again, I would either use something harder and fuse it to the lining, or quilt it to the lining for support. I thought about a wire armature, but I don't want it to be rigid. It should have a little give. The Japanese one had batting which made it feel like a pillow. I did have to slip a dowel in behind the handle because it was sort of crunching up on itself when I carried it. I won't be able to carry it with me when I go on interviews--I wouldn't want it examined side by side with the diagrams. My execution is never quite up to par with my design. Or I remake it, but not yet, not now.
The buttons--which I made with a cheap little craft kit are: Pucca kissing Garu, and L'Arc's Smile album cover. I'm going to make some more but my printer ran out of colored ink. The nice thing being that if I loose them or break them I won't care as opposed to all my "real" buttons.

I'm baaaccckkk

Just received a sweet note from Musing asking me to return. Thank you. I have not given up blogging--I was just both stressed and away. Felt it was not conducive.

In the past two weeks, working backwards: I attended a friend's girl's night out shower, went to Montreal, had the last day of my old job and made a handbag.

I also watched the end of Basilisk, The Last King of Scotland and Kinky Boots. Kind of blew my diet because of birthday, leaving work treats and vacation. Figured out that if I want to play video-games I must set an alarm clock. My husband was rejected for insurance and I've been trying to figure out what his stupid doctor could have written that would cause that.

That's pretty much it for the personal. Worked on that dress I started ages ago when fighting a cycle of video-game addiction--happy to say it's all done but the finishing. Sorted stuff--my on-going project to weed through the accumulation to get to the essentials, like throwing out old magazines. In 2002 after I had had a creative spurt and written lots of poetry I started getting lit-mags with a view to submission. Still have them. I should just throw them out without looking but I keep thinking there were things I wanted to save.

I've also hesitated to write posts just like this--that are meaningful only to people who know me. To try and get back (or get to in the first place) essays which exam a point. Don't know if I'm there yet. I guess I'll write and see.

I have found that my brain is off this week of vacation. Forgetting words, rambling. Mis-referenced Dr. Moreau as Dr. Caligari TWICE in one day (I don't know what that says about me that I need to reference Dr. Moreau twice in one day). I was late to work on my last day because I misread the clock! Strange. So perhaps I need to get back into the rhythm of this and the verbal of this to function.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Pucca Theme

Changed the picture--got tired of looking of myself, and well, sums up my life policy:
 
Pucca loves Garu
He's a pretty boy
Ninjas eat noodles
Kissy chase, Kissy face
Wham Bam Bam
Pu-pu-pu-Pucca, Funny Love
 
I realized that I haven't really done a serious essay in awhile.  It's all been personal or nonsense.  I'll have to work on that.

Whenever I try to get out, they keep pulling me back in

You know how I'd pretty much resolved to leave theater behind except in special circumstances and move on with my adult life--i.e. new job, life insurance, investments, etc.?

There was a part posted a few weeks ago and I really thought about going for it--character was my exact age, chance to play a lipstick lesbian, interesting company, but I said no, no, keep going.

EXCEPT, they sent me a personal invite to come audition based on a mass audition I did last year. Of course, they could be so desperate for this part that they are sending it out to every headshot they've ever seen that was remotely close. BCC, don't I love thee.

Leaving that aside, I'm somewhat flattered--it's cool to be personally asked to audition. Of course, it's cooler to be simply asked to take a role, but ...

The real dilemma is that it goes up in October. Right when the new job really hits the fan--conference I put together and run--big conference in Scottsdale that I'm supposed to attend. As my husband put it, like several tech weeks back to back. Blech.

So, do I audition, knowing that I really shouldn't/couldn't take the role if offered? Do I politely decline to audition citing scheduling conflicts (and the secret belief that they are looking for someone more athletic than I am (see list below)? Decisions, decisions.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

36 Things You Might or Might Not Know About Me (In Honor of My Birthday)

1. I was born in Bien Hoa in the Republic of South Vietnam (a country which, stupid INS officer to the contrary, no longer exists).

2. I spent the first year of my life in an orphanage. The official story was that I was found on the street, but I've since heard that that is often the "official" story.

3. I lived briefly in St. Louis and then spent my childhood and youth in Grandview, MO, a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri.

4. I don't say Missourah.

5. My father opened a bookstore when I was five--it closed when I was 9. It was fun while it lasted.

6. I wanted to act when I was 4.

7. I love to read. I like books better than most people and I read eclectically. I don't read "chick lit" but I do read classics, science-fiction (but I'm very picky), mystery (even pickier) and children's/young adult.

8. My first job was in the local library.

9. I was valedictorian of my high school, but my high school didn't have the valedictorian give the speech. In my only act of rebellion I fought to have that changed with a petition. I was politely asked to give it up.

10. I lie. My other act of rebellion was to start an Amnesty International chapter.

11. I was Thespian President two years in a row.

12. I am a closet math/science fan. I love how numbers work together.

13. I took French for 3 years in high school and 2 years in college and I don't feel like I can speak it. I took German for one semester in high school and feel like I can half understand it in films. I took Japanese for one semester in college and wish I'd stuck with it. I wish now I'd stuck with any of them.

14. I don't like coffee. I really don't like coffee. I can't stand the taste. Even the smell of it unroasted makes me gag a little, and I think French Roast in particular smells like dead fish.

15. My hair was down to my thighs throughout elementary school. I cut it to my shoulders at the start of junior high and just kept getting shorter until this past year. It's back to my shoulders. I think I like it best short, but I'm going to keep going for awhile because I've just bought several different types of hair clips.

16. Likewise, I got my ears pierced at 12 and only two years ago got another piercing in the upper ear.

17. I don't know how to ride a bike.

18. I didn't learn to drive until I was 27 when I moved to Boston that has public transport. Go figure.

19. I went to Amherst College because it had no core curriculum, it was rated the best in U.S. News and because I'd performed The Belle of Amherst in high school.

20. I'm not a great speller. My 5th grade English teacher told me to invest in a good word processor as soon as possible. My 8th grade English teacher asked me if "scilencing" was a rare form of torture.

21. I think I'm a good writer. I won awards in high school and praise in college, but I'm not disciplined. I write poetry. All of my short stories are about a page long because that's all they are. I'm thinking there's a market for it somewhere--like ten minute plays are so popular now. I've only ever thought of one play I wanted to write, lots of short stories, one novel and one novella. They are all in progress. I'll let you know.

22. If you ask me to do something fast I will freeze--like flash card math tests in elementary school--even if I would have been perfectly capable of doing it fast before you asked.

23. Likewise if a director asks me to have fun with a part I will freeze--and worry about what he/she means by that.

24. I'm not a method actor.

25. Of all the things I do, I worry the least about designing because I've had the least pressure about it from outside forces (my mother). I just do.

26. I don't like to sew but I do it to bring my designs to life.

27. I've always been crap at sports.

28. I wanted a Westie since I was five. I had one between 19 and 26. She was wonderful. Now I have a Cairn and a cat. I love them too. I hope to own a Westie again.

29. I like The Red Hot Chile Peppers, Jane's Addiction and Green Day. This surprises people more than knowing I have the first 3 (and only the first 3) Barbara Streisand albums.

30. I know an awful lot of trivia about musicals prior to 1963. I don't like very many musicals after 1963.

31. My first big crush was on Peter O'Toole in Masada. I was 10 and he was 50 and my mother said she thought he was gay (he isn't).

32. I like pretty boys in eyeliner who might be gay. I apparently always have. I also have an odd fetish for strange older men.

33. I am The Chronicles of Narnia in a Fahrenheit 451 sort of way. Even now I could probably come close to reciting them.

34. I've loved Doctor Who since I was a child. If I couldn't go to Narnia, could I at least travel with the Doctor? It's part of why I fell in love with my husband.

35. I've always had hypermobility (double-jointedness) and I've always had some arthritis--they go together.

36. I'll watch almost any movie except puerile humor. Blood, guts, nudity, violence, doesn't bother me but embarrassing toilet humor and I'm out of there.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Carbon Leaf

This is My Song

My name is Luck, this is my song
I happened by when you were gone. Oh well...
I apologize that I could not stay
But I hope good things swing your way
I know they will ... here's your horseshoe
So best of luck to you

From the stable running brave
From the cradle to the grave
This is my day, this is my song!
I am alive .. what can go wrong?
If we're on our way-oh, ok let me know
If we're on our way-oh, ok then, let's go

My name is Hope, Luck just ran out
He said he'd return, without a doubt
(ah, but don't you believe him!)
Oh, I happen to have a message from Love
She told me she knows what you've been dreaming of
My name is Hope, this is my song. When things go wrong
(slightly cheesy, I know, but something about it just grabs me.)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Insurance

In that same train of thought. I've been trying to get my husband life insurance for about a month and a half now. For various reasons he's not as insurable as I'd like. He is in underwriting, to use the jargon. I know too many women who's husband died between 36 and 44, suddenly and without warning. It may sound mercenary to think of insurance but I work in the business. A friend (for whom I found work for with the same company) find ourselves in the strange position of knowing a great deal about something we had no interest in knowing and we were discussing that if our husbands died without insurance (and vice a versa) we would have only ourselves to blame. Although I know uninsured insurance salesmen/women. Strange.

What's irrational is my belief that somehow if I get him insured I likewise gain him some protection. Like carrying an umbrella will stave off rain. I went nearly 10 years without apartment insurance and yet in the month between filing and receiving the paperwork I nearly developed OCD--double checking stove tops and irons. And now that I am insured I do neither, though many things are irreplaceable. As is my husband. And no amount of insurance would make his loss bearable. I also know that I am not the only person to feel that insurance means that the fates will pass you by.

The fates turn on whom they turn. That's the business of being human.

Distant grief

A local critic has died of cancer. I didn't know him. I'm sure I met him. He gave me some nice reviews. I feel sad that he's died.

A friend's ex-husband is dying of cancer. I didn't know him at all, but I feel very sad for her and her children.

I remember 9 years ago a friend who was already spending his evenings in chat rooms came into work, shaken that a young teenager he knew on a board (literary I think, not strange) had died and someone else on the board mentioned it. He said he didn't know how to describe his sorrow. Virtual grief?

Overheard

I was buying novelty keyboard buttons--you know the ones that say "Any" and "Eject." I had found one recently that said "Doom" which I liked a lot but graciously gave to my husband and kept the one that said "Damn It." I bought "Oops" and "D'uh" and a couple of others in this little toy store in Newton Center. While I was deciding which ones I wanted there was an elderly gentleman (probably in his 80's) at the counter talking to the clerk. It was clear that they had spoken before. I think they were discussing birds and he was saying that there hadn't been any in his yard and she suggested suet in his feeder. He said he didn't know how to make suet and she said, "Take some bacon grease-" and he said, "I don't eat bacon."
"Well, some burger grease."
"Don't eat that either."
"Well, there are probably some other non-meat based suet recipes on the Internet."

And he said, "I'm sure there are, but you can't trust anything you read on the Internet. I was on a site once and it had FALSE information on it! It was on astronomy and it was..."

(I sort of lost what he was saying at that point so I don't know what was so terribly wrong)

"so if that was wrong how many other things that I don't know are wrong are wrong. Nope. I don't think people should use it since you can't trust it (the Internet)."

f(O_0)

To paraphrase Captain Mal of Serenity, "Hunh?"

I so wanted to say--as opposed to magazines and newspapers that are bastions of truth? Never get their facts wrong?

And, of course, from the Luddites you can never get the specifics. Was this a board where anyone could post? Was this a reputable site? Etc. The clerk did ask how long ago this was.

"Oh, a few years."

Yes, the Internet is often wrong. So is everything else. Haven't these people ever heard to not believe everything you read?

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Guinness

Post haircut.

The voice-over work

Actually was very tricky and I did do it well. (This is hard for me to write but I'm working on it). The really great thing is that they said they were going to send me a disc later in the summer with some of my work on it (doing the same for everyone involved--personalized). Which can/will be added to a demo tape. So eventually I could have a link to it and you can judge for yourself. When I heard it was pick-ups I was worried because pick-ups mean doing lines you've already done because something went wrong. It could be you, or it could be technical. I, of course, worried that it was me. It wasn't.

This project is a spoken disc to accompany a text book for high-schoolers. That's already been put together, apparently, with my original recordings. There is also an interactive software component and when they were doing that they decided that they needed more space between each line to break. Now, this is a poem. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, as a matter of fact and Rosa by Rita Dove.

Rosa
How she sat there,
the time right inside a place
so wrong it was ready.

That trim name with
its dream of a bench
to rest on. Her sensible coat.

Doing nothing was the doing:
the clean flame of her gaze
carved by a camera flash.

How she stood up
when they bent down to retrieve
her purse. That courtesy.

Now, I had to read these lines and give a space at the end of about TWO seconds AND then say the next line as if there had been no break. It's fine between "How she sat there," and "the time right inside." But try it between "That trim name with"... ... ... ..."its dream of a bench"... ... ... ..."to rest on." Hard, isn't it? The one that really threw me was "...retrieve" ... ... ... ... "her purse." I would hold my breath between the end of one and the beginning of the next.


I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and is tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

There is a definite rhythm to this which allows for some pause, but there is also a relentless moving forward that must be kept and it was that that was most difficult to hold onto while waiting at the end of each line. Like "But a bird that stalks"... ... ... ... "down his narrow cage" must continue the force of "stalks. Likewise, "the strange placement of "and" at the end of "his wings are clipped AND"... ... ... ... "his feet are tied" was one of the hardest and I had to give it a couple of tries.

And the REALLY great thing? I was paid the same amount for 1/2 hour of work as I charged for the 10 or 12 hours on the costume that I returned.

And then things go up again

There is a Simpson's episode where the school closes (again) and Lisa starts to hyperventilate because she hasn't been graded (validated) for 12 hours. Her mother quickly draws a big A on a piece of paper and gives it to her.



I know how she feels.



So, it's been quite a freelancing week. After the disaster with the monster costumes I put together a newsletter for a company I used to work for and did some pick-up lines for the voice-over job I'd done in March. I was thanked and praised repeatedly for both. Now, here's an interesting point about me--I take criticism less well than I'd like, but I also take praise badly. My urge, even here, is to downplay it. Well, yes, they like the newsletter, but really anybody could have done it--I used a Publisher template for heaven's sake and well, it's definitely better than what they used to have, but it would probably embarrass a real graphic designer, etc. I managed to simply say thank you to each of the congratulators--because that's all people really want you to do. They do not want you to tell them why what you did wasn't praise worthy, because if you do that, they will eventually stop praising you at all. D'uh. As to taking criticism, I am better at taking it than I used to be and it is a difficult art--to not feel it personally. The worst thing to do, even if you think the critic an idiot, is to become defensive and start explaining either why you couldn't do better or how what you did is fine. I've had the displeasure of observing people who report TO me do this and it's unpleasant on the receiving end as well. It usually forces the boss to become defensive as well. Even if you think they are wrong the best is to say, "I'm sorry you're unhappy. What can we do to resolve this." And see if there is some option that lets both of you feel "Right." Tricky.