Sunday, October 31, 2004
Happy Halloween!

God, I love Halloween. The only thing I love more than Halloween is Christmas -- and yes, I know it's not "cool" to love Christmas, but I do, even if I don't always love the stuff I gotta do around Christmas. But today's not Christmas, it's Halloween! So screw Christmas! Plenty of time for that later.

It's been a long time since I had a really great Halloween. Two years ago I had a reasonably fun night out with Brian (who, as a skilled prosthetics/make-up effects artist, had a pretty bitchen' costume), but that good Halloween was later cancelled out by What Happened In Los Angeles. (I'll save the LA story for another time.)

I will say this: ANY Halloween in the US is a hundred times better than any Halloween in the UK. The British just don't get the Spirit of Halloween, they're completely hopeless at it. I used to have a running debate with my English ex over whether "Halloween" or "Hallowe'en" was the correct way to spell the word... he posited that since the name was originally anglo in origin, the angloid apostrophe was compulsory; I countered that since we Americans were making far better use of the holiday, we had the right to rename it sans-apostrophe if we wanted to. That led to accusations of Obnoxious Americanism, to which I freely admitted... I can't help being a product of my native culture. All I know is, in Britain the kids don't go Trick-or-Treating, they go out on petty extortion missions, and the adults put on wigs and titter on the Underground. Pfffft. (Strangely, they got all excited over Bonfire Night, which sounds great in theory, even if the execution is generally pretty weak. I'd like to see it done really well sometime.)

Anyhoo, my Halloween is likely to be pretty quiet. Today's the last day of the festival, and it's an early night for us. Tomorrow I'm driving back to Memphis to vote (and how fitting is it that this year Election Day falls on el Dia de los Muertos?) and then coming back Tuesday to wrap up my festival work.

PS: somebody, please, tape the election night stuff for me... any of the big three networks or CNN will do nicely. Get everything. I need it for the film.
11:27 AM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Thursday, October 28, 2004
The Annual Question

The festival director gave it to me, the question she asks every year: "So when are you moving here?"

The unspoken final clause in the question is "... so you can come work at the Institute full time?"

I hate that question. I enjoy it, too -- it's nice to know that one is appreciated so much that there are job offers on the table -- but it's so hard to answer. I have to admit that there's a small part of my mind that thinks a steady paycheck would be awfully nice, even if only for a year or so... I could probably swing $24K a year, which would provide a reasonably comfortable life for a twenty-something woman in this town. I could have a nice apartment, I could get a different car, I could finally afford a laptop... so many things I could do. And I'd be doing it while doing a job I could reasonably expect to like, a job that would probably further my career (even if only in a small way), in a field I love (even if in not quite my ideal capacity.) And the only price is, I have to live in this town to do it. Sounds like a great deal, yes?

The problem is, I hate this town. As it happens, I have some good reasons for hating this town; I lived here for something like two-and-a-half years (with a break in there somewhere) during one of the more difficult periods of my life. A lot of bad shit went down in this town, and I have a lot of intense memories attached to a great many places here.

I saw my first dead body in this town; it belonged to the man I consider to be my first step-father. Although we lived in the same house, I hadn't seen him for a long time... I had locked myself in my room and refused to come out when he was around. Anyone who knows me well will know that I must have had a damn good reason, because I don't hold grudges easily... and I did indeed have a damn good reason; many of them, in fact. His funeral was the first time I'd seen his face in a number of months. At that funeral I saw my little step-brother Travis for the last time (sometimes I still wonder where he is, how he's doing), and then I went home and fed soup to my mother and tried to brush the tangles and a little dried blood out of her hair. She probably doesn't remember that. I was sixteen at the time.

It wasn't all bad. I fell in love for the first time in this town, and had my first kiss here. But both he and I wanted nothing but to leave (preferrably together). The point is, I could not possibly live here happily full time. Returning to this town from Memphis would be like traveling even further back into my own personal history, and into a particularly painful time. Apart from my annual quietly-angst-ridden visits to work this festival, I am done with this place.

I can hardly explain all that to the festival director, though... she barely has time to sit and ask, much less listen to the full answer. And I always worry that telling these stories sounds to others like a plea for sympathy, which is the LAST thing I'm looking for. Even when it all happened I couldn't stomach the pity of others. I remember my first day back at school after my step-father's death; all of the teachers and a few students had quiet, sympathetic platitudes for me. They'd all read of the accident in the newspaper, although none of them could know the real scope of the story behind it, and how the accident was a tragic but much-needed relief for me. The guy who was on the other side of that first love and first kiss was the only one who dared to cross the sentimental divide that day, saying to me, "I heard he got run over by a train." I appreciated that a lot more than the card signed by all the kids who could barely remember my name, much less have any real feelings toward me or my situation.

So, my answer this year is the same as the previous two years: I love this festival, but I will not be moving here to work for the Institute. There are some demands that not even film can make upon me.
6:59 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Don't shut me out!

Did you know that the Bush campaign has blocked access to its official website for anyone trying to access it from Australia? (Other countries too, apparently, but I can't confirm that...)

Anyway, this is all that the Bush crowd are prepared to let the likes of me see:



Not that I've ever really wanted to read his shite, but now I feel hurt ... shunned ... cut out ...

Oh yeah, and do you see the helpful suggestion that I call someone about this: the goddamn phone number is listed on the website - which they WON'T LET ME SEE!
8:04 AM ::
Mr Smithers :: permalink
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Wednesday, October 27, 2004
This Morning's Dream

I only have one recurring dream; it's about tornadoes. I've had it most of my life. It has gradually lessened in intensity since I first began having it, but early on it was absolutely terrifying. The intensity of the dreams has always closely mirrored that of my emotions regarding my dad, which has also slowly waned with time and distance.

I've always connected the tornado dream to my father. It crops up the most when he's around, or when stuff is going on that relates to him in some way. In early versions of the dream, I was always trying to round up a number of kittens and get them to safety; I don't think I ever managed it. In later versions, the kittens disappeared and it became a stressful but less frantic search for cover, usually in a basement somewhere. During this stage, tornadoes would come in groups, images of three or four approaching on the horizon.

In this morning's dream, I was in the town where I'm currently working, and the weather turned bad; we were told a tornado was on its way. We made our way casually to the basement of the building where I'm working to wait for the storm to pass so we could get on with things. After it was over we emerged and went out onto the street. While we were standing out there, a courier (like the UPS guy or something) approached me.

"Are you A__?"

"Yeah."

He handed me a couple of boxes and said, "these are your last two packages," and walked back to his truck. And that's where the dream ends.

All day I have had the unshakeable feeling that there's something important in that, something about "the last two" in connection to a dream that I regard as being about my father.
7:38 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Get Yer Fresh Blog Here

Anybody still out there?

This film festival thing is hard; I always forget how much work is involved in an event of this scale. I've managed to survive two days of workshop co-ordination -- thank god, most of them have been pretty self-sufficient so far -- but I'm dreading tomorrow. I had to set up 18 interviews for workshop attendees; we had a facilitator drop out at the last minute; we had a panel moderator cancel; and people keep coming up with stuff they forgot to tell me to do, changes they forgot to inform me about. I'm starting to feel like the fire department... rushing from emergency to emergency, beating back the flames and restoring order just as the next alarm goes off.

The mornings are the worst. It's like everybody wants everything first thing, and they want it done right now! The phone rings and rings and rings and rings... people call up, and they want us to explain every single f-ing film we're showing. We call it Moviefone duty. I know the old platitude about there not being any dumb questions... but trust me, there are some dumb, dumb questions floating around in the collective unsconscious, just waiting for somebody to part their lips and take a breath.

We had a minor drama yesterday. A woman -- who shall remain nameless, but who happens to be the executive director of Women Make Movies -- led a workshop, and before I begin, let me say that it was a good and worthy workshop. The problem was that she said something rather impolitic during it. She had sent us a number of handouts she wanted copied in advance, which we did, with one exception: a list of film festivals which neglected to include this one. Since that smacks of promoting other festivals without promoting the host festival, it was requested that the handout be altered to include us. This was done, the handout was copied, and all seemed well with the world.

At least until Ms. Zimm... er... the workshop leader... protested. She said that including our festival on the handout would "negatively impact the integrity" of said handout.

Now, don't get me wrong: I understand her reasoning. But the way she went about expressing it kinda caught in the craw of the festival director. The handout was changed back and replaced; as a compromise, a second list of genre-specific festivals (including this one) was also included. Nobody was exactly thrilled, but everyone was satisfied. Peace reigned again.

Until Ms. Zimmerma... I mean, the workshop leader... opened her cake-hole during the workshop.

She was speaking of festivals. She had a funny anecdote to tell. The anecdote, it turned out, was about the hilarious attempt of this festival to have itself listed on her handout. The audience couldn't have been a more sensitive one for the festival -- it was predominantly made up of visiting filmmakers and a couple of press people. Everyone laughed -- the ridiculousness of it, this festival wanting to be acknowledged! Ha! Hilarious!

She ended her amusing tale by saying it was "nothing against the festival" which was "great," but "just not that kind of festival." (Sort of a New York version of "bless her heart" as a way to dull the edge of a particularly catty insult.)

And she was right. It's not that kind of festival.

But she didn't have to say it that way.

It added nothing to the conversation. We had accomodated her, we had given her what she wanted, she should have left it at that. She said she was "just being honest," which wasn't untrue, but we all knew there was more to it than that: we were being put in our place. We knew it and resented it; I'm certain she knew it too, on some level, even if she didn't acknowledge it as such.

How dare we reach above our station? How do we have the chutzpah to even suggest such a thing?

Anyway, the festival director was less than pleased. Nothing was made of it, but it was noted. She won; we were gently bitch-slapped; that's the way things work. Thus endeth the lesson.

But it's still an ugly thing.
8:11 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Sunday, October 24, 2004
Things I Bring Upon Myself

This morning I am obsessed with chairs. Not just any chairs, either, but portable folding chairs that have to be borrowed from other sources. Chairs that, if I had my shit even remotely together, I'd have realized needed to be dealt with long before 4 AM this morning, which is when I awoke to find the sudden realization that I need 40 folding chairs by 9 AM tomorrow buzzing around inside my head.

40 folding chairs have already been lined up; it's the dates that fell by the wayside. I was supposed to contact the man about the chairs and confirm the dates. And I hadn't forgotten -- I had it down in my notebook and everything -- it was just that I forgot about Sunday.

Sunday has always been a concept with which I am less than completely comfortable. It probably has something to do with the fact that I'm not a church-goer or a sabbath-keeper, combined with the fact that I'm not an office-hours job-worker. The whole weekend thing just isn't a major concept for me... I live and subsist day-to-day, I take a day off when I want one, and usually it's no big deal. In a city like Memphis, as sucky as it is, one can find just about anything one needs at any time of the day or night... at least as long as one doesn't mind driving 15 or 20 miles (at worst) to get it.

But, if you didn't know already... I ain't in Memphis.

In this small-ish southern town, I can in no way rely upon anything at all being available on a Sunday. Nobody will be in their offices to help me with my pathetic little emergency today. The guy I needed to call about the chairs will probably be at home watching a football game or something. And who can blame him?

But the fact remains that at 10 AM tomorrow morning, 30-some-odd lazy festival-goers will be coming to a workshop and looking for a place to set their butts down, and it seems that much of the rest of my day will be spent trying to accomodate them and their weary asses.

It's really only my own fault. I brought this on myself.

Where the fuck do I find 40 free folding chairs on a Sunday?

I was hoping to sleep in a little this morning -- it's the last day in which I can conceivably get more than, oh, six hours of sleep per night for the next week, and I wanted to make use of it -- but once I awoke at 4 AM and thought about the goddamn chairs, and realized that if I was to have any chance at all of success I'd need to start first fucking thing (anybody whom I do manage to contact will almost certainly leave their offices by noon), and it wasn't like I was going to get any more sleep last night. So I'm running on three hours of sleep today.

Why do I do this?

Anyway, it's 8 AM... time to get started.

Update: In the end, it turned out to be just one of those things. Yesterday the Chair Crisis seemed like a manageable task; at 4 AM it suddenly looked more like my certain doom. This morning it was a major stress-inducer, and by this afternoon I'm wondering why I was so worried. I forgot about the counter-balance to small-town Sundays: in small towns, everyone knows everyone else. The volunteer co-ordinator is friends with the convention center head of security; I called him and he called the general manager; the general manager called the office and said we could come over in the morning and pick up the chairs anytime it was convenient for us.

So, crisis averted, along with a few other fires that seemed terrfying at first and eventually proved to be utterly harmless. This is how film festivals always go, I guess.
7:40 AM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Saturday, October 23, 2004
Not Your Bitch

We are approaching the end of the second day of the festival; eight more to go (including the hardest ones.) The only thing that's frustrating me is that the usual cast of characters -- with the exception of those with whom I work all day -- seem to be under the impression that I'm still the all-purpose festival bitch. Look, people, I've got TWO jobs here this year, damn it, and I've got plenty to keep me occupied. I come in at 9 AM before the first film begins, I leave at 11 at night after the last film starts running, and between those hours I've got a steaming shitload of things to accomplish. I don't have time to make up 50 different versions of the workshop schedule based on each individual's specific preferences, I don't have time to hand-hold you through day's film listings, and I certainly don't have time to be your fucking gopher. Unless I really, really like you -- and don't assume I do.

At one point today I was juggling requests from five different sources -- three of them valid and two not. The thing that I most want to impress upon people is that if five different requests are made simultaneously -- so simultaneously that the requestors are actually interrupting each other to make them -- I am not going to be able to fulfill ANY of the aforementioned requests. I am a capable young woman, but for fuck's sake, back off.

The festival director gets to tell me what to do. The volunteer co-ordinator, to a certain extent, gets to tell me what to do. The people leading the workshops I'm co-ordinating myself get to tell me what to do. Nobody else. Okay? Okay.

Thanks for letting me vent.
7:41 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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One Worthy Choice

What with the election coming upon us so quickly now, it seems like an opportune time to make an argument that I've been sitting on so far. It's one that I'm usually pretty hesitant to make -- first, I actually have a great deal of respect for the opinions of those to whom I'm arguing, and second, I doubt it'll actually do much to change many minds. But any good argument is worth making, so here it is.

I must admit that I have a serious problem with the don't vote/vote third party crowd. It's not that I disagree with your expressed aims; I think they are admirable and desireable. I agree with you that voting for the lesser of two evils is a sorry situation in which to be placed. I hate the fact that so many people are placed in a position where voting their conscience means "throwing away" their vote. It's also not that I disagree with the points you make; your arguments are, by and large, principled and articulate, and entirely valid. I have heard and understood the many arguments in favor of anarchism / greenism / libertarianism / general third-party-ism / conscientious non-voterism. I respect your opinions; I wish you success. But this is just not the time for liberal infighting -- this year these arguments are inappropriate and destructive.

My primary issue with all of the above is that it's all theoretical, all academic. It's all well and good to sit around having spirited political debates with your friends after dinner; I love blogs and bloggers and hope there are more of us in the future. But none of these things actually, really make much difference in the real world. And this year's election is too serious in terms of real-world consequences for real people to waste our efforts.

Right now poor schools serving the neediest students have had their budgets for supplemental programs -- the programs that can help make the difference between a successful life and a failed life for those who are targeted by them -- slashed to the point of program failure. These budget cuts can literally contribute to downward pressure on the lives of the people we most want to help. Right now we face a choice between an administration that will be actively hostile to gay rights and a woman's right to choose, and an administration that, as imperfect as it is, will at least not attack the above. It's not a good choice, but it remains one that could ultimately make a real difference in real people's lives. We have a choice between an administration that will continue to make destructive choices regarding our military activites and our "diplomatic" tactics -- choices that are literally a matter of life and death for thousands of people both here and abroad -- and an administration that would very likely make better choices. Perfect? Probably not. But when people's lives are at stake, the perfect is truly the enemy of the good.

Is it worth a human life to make an academic point? If you really think it is... are you sure you're actually working to make our country a better place? The more-radical-than-thou crowd always says to us, "if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem." I say, indeed.

The point is, your academic theories do nothing to help real people who face real consquences. I would truly love for a third party to eventually become a genuine alternative for Americans; I think it's going to prove a very hard row to hoe, but it's a laudable goal and I have immense admiration for those people who are pursuing it meaningfully and in a genuine spirit of social betterment. But there are very, very few of those people, even among the movement's supporters. To those who support the Greens, for example: what have you done to make the Green Party a viable one? Blogging and talking with your friends doesn't count... what have you actually done? What have you done to make the Green Party a real option not only for the bearded organic-veg crowd, but for Midwestern factory workers, too? For rural southern African-Americans? For Christians? For Muslims? For -- gasp! -- fiscal conservatives? Without these people seeing you as a real alternative, you will NEVER have a chance at making your much-sought-after "difference"; without applying your theories to the real world, you don't deserve one. You have a lot of work ahead of you; I don't envy you the task. That's why I prefer to try to work in the imperfect-but-viable Democratic party; it's not the only right choice, of course, but it is a valid one.

If you don't think Kerry is a good enough candidate, that's fine... by all means, keep working for the Greens and the anarchists. But if the real situation in the real world matters to you at all, the only choice I can respect is to do whatever it is in your power to do to remove George W. Bush from office. As I see it, that means voting for Kerry, even with reservations. Political perfection will only engender its opposite; we can't afford to take an all-or-nothing position this year.

And if you say you hope Bush wins... you're a Bush supporter. Deal with it. Embrace your Republicanism.

PS: In the best blogger fashion, Denny has entered into the discussion. I happen to think he's wrong on this one, but offer his blog as an alternate voice.
10:19 AM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Friday, October 22, 2004
Bush Supporters Are Uninformed

- 75% believe Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda.

- 74% believe Bush favors including labor and environmental standards in agreements on trade.

- 72% believe Iraq had WMD or a program to develop them.

- 72% believe Bush supports the treaty banning landmines.

- 69% believe Bush supports the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

- 61% believe if Bush knew there were no WMD he would not have gone to war.

- 60% believe most experts believe Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda.

- 58% believe the Duelfer report concluded that Iraq had either WMD or a major program to develop them.

- 57% believe that the majority of people in the world would prefer to see Bush reelected.

- 56% believe most experts think Iraq had WMD.

- 55% believe the 9/11 report concluded Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda.

- 51% believe Bush supports the Kyoto treaty.

- 20% believe Iraq was directly involved in 9/11.

(source)

Hint for Bush supporters: all of the above statements are false.

PS: Sorry about all the quicky posts lately; it's all I have time for. This is likely to remain the case through the rest of the month.
2:37 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Thursday, October 21, 2004
Today's My Day For Short Posts

The perfect Christmas gift for the anti-TV crowd:
A keychain device that enables people to turn off TVs just about anywhere is flying off the shelves, its inventor says.

(...)

The device, an on-off switch, works on about 1,000 TV models, offering users relief from unwanted pictures and noise in airports, restaurants and bars.

It's like a universal remote control programmed to run through about 200 infrared codes that turn TVs on or off.

Aim the device, push the button and most TVs will go off.

(source)
5:02 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Makes Sense Now That You Put It Like That

Did you know that William Gibson has a blog?

It's true!

If I were to put together a truly essential thank-you list for the people who most made it possible for me to write my first six novels, I'd certainly owe as much to Ronald Reagan as to Bill Gates or Lou Reed. Reagan's presidency put the grit in my dystopia. His presidency was the fresh kitty litter I spread for utterly crucial traction on the icey driveway of uncharted futurity. His smile was the nightmare in my back pocket.

4:54 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Moving Rapidly

That Bill O'Reilly's a funny, funny guy. Why does everyone take his little jokes so damn personally?
3:55 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Wednesday, October 20, 2004
Mom And Dom

Just wanted to wish my wonderful mother a happy birthday. I love you, mom! I won't tell you how old she is, but I can tell you this: the number of her age is two higher than the last two digits of the year in which she was born.

Also, happy birthday to new daddy Dominic, my one-time set-building instructor and always-friend. Maybe Aya will take the baby out for the day so you can get a few extra hours of sleep.
11:30 AM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Shoot Me Now

I think I've written roughly a hundred thousand emails today.

Yes, I'm prone to hyperbolizing. But I have written a crazy-big bunch of emails, easily a hundred. Since I had a computer all to myself today, it became my day to handle print traffic -- you'd be amazed at how slow filmmakers are to send their screening prints in without being prodded, even to a festival of our stature. (And yes, for documentarians this is a very high-stature festival.) Alas, it all comes at the expense of workshop matters, so I'm now half-behind on that... I'll be pulling 12- and 14-hour days, 7 days a week until the festival ends.

I've become rather adept at catching bugs in mason jars. On Sunday I had a centipede in my bedroom; after forcing him to entertain me in his jar for the afternoon, I let him out into the flower beds. Then today I awoke to find a wolf spider in my shower; he went out to the flower beds, too. I'm glad I'm not the kind of girl to go into hysterics at the sight of a large bug... except for wasps. I can co-exist peacefully with a wasp in a house, but I wouldn't dare attempt to catch one the way some people do. When I was a girl one of my friends' mothers had the amazing ability to casually catch them with her hand and a tissue... I'd love to be able to do that, but I'm just too chicken-shit about getting stung.

And blissfully, the city of Hot Springs has decided to rip up the section of street in front of our office/theater just in time for the festival. It's impossible to cross the street to the parking lot; the workmen give us dirty looks when we try. Apparently we're in their way or something.

4:33 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Saturday, October 16, 2004
Only The Comedians Can Save Us

I'm not going to talk about Jon Stewart's amazing appearance on Crossfire... it's been talked to death. Here's a transcript if you want to know what happened.

The only reason I even bring it up is because it's an exellent example of a phenomenon that I've longed believed in, and have been thining about a bit lately anyway. Anyone who knows me at all well knows that while I'm not given to hero-worship, I make an exception for a certain kind of comedian. And I use the term "comedian" very loosely... your garden-variety stand-up is a rather sad figure, and certainly not deserving of anyone's special esteem. The people I'm talking about transcend mere comedianship, and become a much greater thing: prophets.

I know I tend to talk about Bill Hicks the most, and it's true, he's probably my current favorite. But he's only one of several who, in my opinion, have earned a place as a modern prophet; also in the list are Lenny Bruce (obviously) Andy Kaufman, Harpo Marx, Richard Pryor, and potentially a few others if they keep their game up. (Denis Leary, I suppose, would be a good example of a false prophet, Bill-Hicks-wannabe hack that he is; Sam Kinison was a proto-prophet run amok.)

These guys don't tend to live too long... Lenny died of an OD; Andy died of lung cancer; Bill died of pancreatic cancer; Richard was felled by MS, although he's still alive. (Harpo lived to a ripe old age, but then he was always more of a portal for light and happiness than a sponge for anguish, so that makes sense.) Given what these people do for a living -- by which I don't mean getting up on stage and telling jokes, but rather using themselves as a living psycho-spiritual filter for all of society's collective rage and pain -- it's not surprising, perhaps, that their bodies never seem able to take the strain for more than thirty or forty years. They accept a life in which they take on the burden of continually facilitating our desperately-needed catharsis on our behalf, and it seems they inevitably give up their lives in the process.

We don't get to have prophets anymore. We don't have a social place for truthtellers; artists try, and do a fine job, but some things must be said directly, the things which society is unwilling to hear otherwise, those that we won't tolerate being said; the pain is too much. Those things must be veiled in humor -- sort of a big cosmic snootchy-bootchy -- to even make it into the collective consciousness.

You never hear of Jesus having a sense of humor, but if you read those words that are best attributed to him, it's clear that there was one there. Which isn't to suggest that Hicks and Bruce are on par with Matthew, Mark, Luke and John... merely that they may be the closest thing to them our society is allowed to have. I often find myself wondering where the current Hicks is -- if in fact it's even time for another one like him. Much of what he said in the years just before he died is still very relevant; perhaps even more so than it was when he actually said it. For example:

"George Bush presided over an administration whose policies towards South America included genocide. Ha! Ha! So yeah, you see, the reason I didn't vote for him is because he is a mass-murderer.

Substitute "the Middle East" for "South America" and you've pretty much got the current situation nailed, albeit stated in a fairly shrill way. ("Shrill," of course, being the current desireable-epithet-du-jour among all self-respecting lefties. As in, "Did you read that last Steve Gilliard post?" "Yeah, man, that was totally shrill.")

Now, none of this is to say that your lesser comedic priests -- Stewart, Carlin, Maher, Cho, et al -- are on quite this level... I'd actually suggest that in order to be a proper prophet, the person in question has to be dead. (Hardly any Americans had even heard of Bill Hicks at the time of his death, although he was hot shit in the UK... which says a lot about our respective cultures, actually.) You can't get quite the mythic resonance necessary off a living person. Death demonstrates the necessary commitment to the medium. But certainly people like Stewart are preaching the gospel while the rest of us wait patiently for the Next Coming.

4:00 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Thursday, October 14, 2004
The Joys Of Incoherence

Y'know those big LED signs that people put up around stadiums and casinos and other public facilities? They flash the details of upcoming events, happy messages, advertisements, etc... yeah, those things.

Well there's one around here that I passed by during my lunch break today, and it said the damndest thing: as I approached, it was flashing a big Coca-Cola logo; the next thing I saw was the words "OSTOMY NURSES"; followed by "INCONTINENCE"; and finally the word, "THIRSTY?"

Errrrrm... no.

Now, I admit that I looked down for a second right after the Coca-Cola logo, so maybe something flashed briefly that would make the rest make sense. And given that this is a town full of elderly people, talking about ostomy nurses and incontence isn't necessarily an inherent non-sequiter. But it was still pretty fuckin' weird.

I was reminded of an incident riding on the Tube in London; I was sitting next to a mousy-haired woman who was reading a play of indeterminate title, and I was, naturally enough, surruptitiously reading as she turned the pages. I was amused to note that at roughly regular intervals she had noted the word "Bollocks!" next to the text; I assumed it was just a comment on the quality of the play. But about ten pages in, she had noted in similar fashion -- but larger letters -- "TITS!" I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing out loud at that one (since obviously you're not allowed to laugh on the Tube). Other people's incoherence is one of life's true joys.
3:59 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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No Time, No Time

No time to recompose a personal email (looking at you, Dave) which took 45 minutes to write and was ultimately sucked into the aether by the fickle god of webmail. I'll try again later. No time to discuss the debate last night, except to say that I'm sure Bush's supporters are glad that, for once, he didn't completely fuck it up, even though that still won't save him on Nov. 2. No time to tell the folks at the Co-op about the amazing stuff that's going to be happening where I am; if any of y'all read this, drop me a line and ask, 'cause otherwise I'll forget and that would be bad because you might want to know.

Does anyone want to give me a new laptop? 'Cause having one right now would really save my ass. I might be able to get everything done if I had one.

11:39 AM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Wednesday, October 13, 2004
Republican Voter Fraud

Republican activists would have you believe that the mere act of registering new voters is tantamount to voter fraud; I can't blame them for disliking it, since new voter registrations have seen margins of 10-to-1 or more in favor of the Democratic party.

But leave it to other Republicans to show 'em how voter fraud is really done. In Nevada, a private group called Voters Outreach has been registering new voters outside malls and supermarkets. Thing is, they only wanted Republican registrations. So what do they do with all the Democratic registration forms they end up with?

Easy: rip 'em up and pretend they never existed.

This is the thing that frustrates those of us on the Left. Compared to the shit the GOP pulls, Bill Clinton was an eagle scout, and yet when they get caught nothing happens. The new Republican party motto should be, "If we get away with it, it isn't really wrong."

PS: Steve Gilliard has more.
11:13 AM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Tuesday, October 12, 2004
Is It Vietnam Yet?

Still not convinced? Read this.

I hope he's wrong, I really do. But Hersh has nailed every story so far, and I have no reason to suspect this is any different.

Note: edited to correct for my complete and utter, all-consuming disinterest in baseball.
5:00 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Monday, October 11, 2004
J'taime Je T'aime John Kerry

There may be a temporary lull in the frequency of posts to this blog, gentle readers, while I attend to a month-long regimen of penance and the saying of the Rosary in preparation for November 2. Posting will continue, but you'll forgive me if it's not quite as daily as it normally is. I'm sure the coming election will give me ample reason to make time for new posts, though, so the dip in numbers shouldn't be too extreme.


A Future Voter Tells Bush What He Thinks of The Deficit
9:45 AM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Saturday, October 09, 2004
The Morning After

Well, I think it's fair to say that there are some surprised people in Australia this morning. The government of John Howard won a thumping great victory in yesterday's Federal Election, and on TV last night, even some of the Liberal Party commentators seemed somewhat taken aback that the government had actually increased its majority. Consider: this is a government that has been in office since 1996, so Howard has now won four elections on the trot (1996, 1998, 2001 and now this one.) Furthermore, this is the second time in two successive elections that Howard has actually increased his parliamentary majority. And - to make it even sweeter (for him) the ruling Liberal/National coalition look like they might even get control of the Senate for the first time.

So, yeah, it's surprising because it's far more usual for governments to lose support over time until eventually they're thrown from office. And it's surprising because as late as yesterday morning, the public opinion polls were predicting a very close result. One of the major public polls (Morgan, I think) was even tipping a Labor victory. They all got it wrong!

From the point of view of US observers, I don't think there's too much to read into this. Of course Howard's victory will give Bush a bit of comfort (after all, Little Johnny and W. are good mates - even hanging out together at the Crawford ranch), but the election issues were different here to what you're experiencing in the US, and hence the Australian result is not a big predictor of the US result.

Even though Australia is officially one of the glorious Coalition of the Willing, and has troops on the ground there, for many people here the Iraqi war was not a major issue. Our presence is not large - a few hundred troops - and Australians have been fortunate not to be amongst any of the casualties. May this remain so.

Instead, the big issue of the election campaign was the economy - and more precisely, which party managed to portray itself as the better economic manager. And it was here that the ruling Liberal Party (which, as you may remember, is really a conservative party ... Rule of thumb: in Australia, if the word "Liberal" has a capital L, then it means "conservative". If "liberal" has a small l, then it means "liberal". Confused? Yeah, so are most Liberals. Particularly the conservative Liberals.) ... where was I? Yes, it was on the subject of economic management that the Liberals managed to portray themselves in the best light, and basically wipe the floor with the Labor Party. In the final week of the campaign we were subjected to a barrage of attack ads, in every commercial break, from the Liberals, shrieking at us about how awful Labor would be, about how Latham would stuff everything up and about how interest rates inevitably rise under Labor governments. This may or may not be true - in Australia, as in the US, interest rates are set by the central bank, not by the government of the day, and most reputable economists disputed the government's claim that Labor = high interest rates. Nevertheless, the government's argument was a powerful one indeed in a country with record levels of personal indebtedness, at the tail end of a housing price boom. And it worked.

My own view? Well, yesterday was my first vote in an Australian election (only having become a naturalised citizen last year), so I have no history, but I can tell you this now - I'm certainly no Labor supporter. Based on my knowledge of their policies, and also the pretty impressive economic track record of the Liberals' eight and half years in office, I actually buy the argument that the economy will be in better shape under them. However, I voted Labor. Why? Because I am sick of being lied to by Howard. He's the guy who was bobbing up and down eighteen months ago justifying the Iraqi war on completely spurious grounds - grounds that he knew, or should have known were unsupported by the facts. I'm sickened by his preparedness to use the tactics of fear and vilification of certain groups (eg refugees) to further his own political ends.

Let me give you the best-known example of this. During the last election campaign, in 2001, there were reports of refugees sailing toward Australia, who apparently threw their babies into the sea in order to force the Australian Navy to rescue them, and thus bring them into the country. Howard and his ministers gleefully seized upon this report, as evidence that we don't want that kind of person in the country. The reports turned out to be false, and all the evidence suggests that Howard knew them to be false at the time - before the 2001 election. But he never corrected the story, adopting instead a position of plausible deniability to the suggestion that he knew it was wrong at the time, and instead allowed the story to run. This was three years ago, one whole electoral cycle ago ... but that's the kind of tactic that he is prepared to resort to for his own political gain.

Howard's a homophobe. Every year, the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (one of the biggest regular events in Australia) invites a whole lot of dignitaries to write a message of welcome/support in the annual program. Every year there are short comments from persons such as the Lord Mayor of Sydney, the Premier of the state of New South Wales (where Sydney is), the Leader of the Opposition, the Federal Tourism Minister etc etc. Every year, the Prime Minister of Australia is invited to submit a brief paragraph, welcoming visitors and expressing support for a safe and happy time. No big deal, you would have thought. But, nope, every year, the Prime Minister of this country declines to comment. There's a whole raft of issues (such as same-sex marriage, pensions for surviving same-sex partners of defence force veterans, superannuation and adoption) where Howard has made his views quite clear. And he is quite clear that people who do not conform to his 1950s white-picket-fence, nuclear family model are not worthy of equitable consideration.

I could rant on for some time ... but I have taken enough real estate on this blog already. But this explains why I could not vote Liberal yesterday - even though I am not a Labor supporter. Even though I think it's probably right that the economy will be worse under Labor, that's the price we would have had to pay for getting rid of Howard.

It's all academic now.

Cheers!
7:41 PM ::
Mr Smithers :: permalink
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It's Election Day

Yep, here in Australia, we're currently in the process of finding out who has won today's election. I was planning on writing a lengthy comment on it all - in fact, that comment is half-drafted in my word processor - however, I've had to stop.

Why? Well, it's all kind of depressing... I'm watching the TV as I type, and it's (gulp) looking like there is a swing towards the Howard government. Late opinion polls were suggesting that Labor might pull it off, but the (very early) results are showing exactly the opposite.

Sigh.

We've got three more years of Howard's lies.
3:57 AM ::
Mr Smithers :: permalink
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Buy Some Wood On The Internets

Go look before eBay pulls the auction.

Everybody likes a good joke eBay auction, right?

Also, behold the splendor: A history of the Iraq War, told entirely in lies.
1:59 AM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Friday, October 08, 2004
DO I SEEM FORCEFUL YET?

WHY THE FUCK IS GEORGE YELLING AT THE DEBATE AUDIENCE? DOES HE THINK THAT IF HE JUST SHOUTS LOUD ENOUGH WE'LL BUY THAT HE'S FORCEFUL AND RESOLUTE?

JESUS, I FEEL LIKE I'M GETTING AN ANGRY LECTURE FROM MY DAD. WHAT A DOUCHE THIS GUY IS.

(maybe he thinks it'll keep him from smirking)

PS: Why is it that Kerry doesn't seem to be aware of the other "Internets"? Did Bush invent another internet without anybody knowing about it?

PPS Oh man, I'm loving this... I can smell Bush's flames from here, and St. Louis is at least four hours away.
8:25 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Tomorrow's News Today

So the second Presidential debate is tonight. Don't think you'll have time to watch? No problem! Jesse at Pandagon has already posted his wrap-up commentary (just like a real American journalist.)

2:36 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Some Good Stuff

Here's something interesting: I haven't gotten to watch these yet (damn this slow connection), but given the source I'm betting they're good enough to post proudly. Documentary super-genius Errol Morris (The Fog of War and a dozen other amazing films) has produced a series of commercials profiling Republicans who are going to be voting for John Kerry this year.

Combined with Michael J. Fox's pro-Kerry/pro-stem cell research ad, I'm thinking Kerry's blowing Bush away on the compelling-ad front. They've got a boatful of liars; we've got an Oscar winner and Marty McFly. (I know which I'd rather have on my side.)
1:43 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Thursday, October 07, 2004
A Day In Which I Do Something I Didn't Expect To Ever Do

My main goal for today is to work together a proper proposal for my once-and-future institution of higher learning. I left college roughly seven years ago under difficult circumstances, and at the time carried a bitterness and resentment towards the place that kept me from even considering the possibility of return. Now, however, through a combination of a need for new growth and a need to escape Memphis, I find myself a prospective-returning student to that same school.

It has to be the same school, of course; because I chose to go to a progressive, academically-minded liberal arts college with a program based on a design-your-own-curriculum-type concept (aka "The Plan of Concentration," or simply the Plan), none of my credits after my sophomore year (nor a few before, as well) are transferrable to nearly any other institution. If I go somewhere else, I start over as a 2nd-year student. If I want to finish this thing up in a reasonable amount to time, it's back to my old alma mater with me.

Thus, this proposal. The school has no set process for returning students, and I'm not getting a great deal of advice on the subject (maybe it's a test? to see if I'm as independently-motivated as I'll probably need to be?), so I'm left guessing what they want from me. I assume I'll need to convince at least one faculty member to formally accept me as a final-year Plan student, and that's what this proposal is about. It's the only useful thing I can think of to do, and I figure I'll have to do it at some point anyway, so I might as well get it done.

I am fortunate in one respect: since I left, the film department has changed completely and utterly. The new professor seems to be very amenable and sympathetic to my interests and ideas, which is a departure from the professors I left, one of whom was thoroughly burnt-out and apathetic, and the other arrogant and overly full of himself. Given that that was what I began my fledgling film career under, it's frankly impressive, I think, that I continued on with it. This current professor is arguably exactly what I need right now; he's the right teacher, and this is the right time. So it seems like something that can and should happen.

But I still have my old professor to deal with... she was my primary (non-film) Plan Sponsor the first time, and I have very mixed feelings about taking up under her again. It's not that I dislike her; I don't at all, I like her and respect her very much. It's just that, having left under a dark shadow the first time, I'm very worried about how things will go this time. I can't help but wonder if, from her perspective, the floundering 22-year-old I was then will ever be entirely absent. The fact is, she said some things at the time that stung me deeply, and I haven't forgotten them. I don't blame her, or hold a grudge against her -- she didn't have any realistic understanding of where I was or what I was going through at the time, so how was she to know the impact of what she said? -- but neither can I quite get over what was said at the time and how very unhelpful it all was. She, of course, has probably forgotten entirely... just a few passing words to one student of hundreds passing through.

The fact remains, though, that I will have to go back under her guidance, at least to some extent... the Plan I do from this point forward must still be (and on some level very much is) connected to the Plan I left off from. Even if my emphasis and primary focus shifts completely, and I end up working with my old Sponsor on the side more than in the main, I must still draw that old thread into whatever work I do now.

I find myself in an awkward situation academically. Although I haven't been doing this particular kind of academic work for nearly seven years now, it's not as if I've remained idle; on the practical side of things, I've gone elsewhere and made enormous progress. The upshot being, I know a great deal more on one side of the subject than a typical undergraduate would, so there's a lot of material I don't need to cover; I will be considerably more advanced than my fellow students. From a production standpoint, I would naturally be working on a doctoral level now, but I'm going into an environment of mostly basic instruction. I don't mean to do much production as part of my Plan, so it's not a major issue, but I doubt I'll be entirely disconnected from it, either. It all means I'm a bit lop-sided -- in a good way, obviously, but it still makes the intellectual fit a bit strange.

But it also means that I have the foundation under me to do a really solid piece of work... not just the fundamental stuff that a typical undergrad would be doing, but something on an entirely different level: primary research on an emerging movement. Which is pretty exciting. I feel much more equal to the task than I did seven years ago -- the great irony of sending kids to college or the university when they're 18 is that they're never really ready to make the most of it at that age -- and I feel like I can get some strong, impressive work done over the next year.

Provided, of course, I can convince the school of that.
2:06 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Wednesday, October 06, 2004
Count The Lies

So, exactly how many times did Dick Cheney lie at the debate last night? The current estimate is about half a dozen confirmable lies.


Six! Six lies!
5:54 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Saddam: Not A Threat

The current chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq, Charles Duelfer, who has been heading a now 18-month-long search for WMDs in Iraq on behalf of the Bush administration, issued an interesting report today. The Washington Post says:
The government's most definitive account of Iraq's arms programs, to be released today, will show that Saddam Hussein posed a diminishing threat at the time the United States invaded and did not possess, or have concrete plans to develop, nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, U.S. officials said yesterday.

The officials said that the 1,000-page report by Charles A. Duelfer, the chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq, concluded that Hussein had the desire but not the means to produce unconventional weapons that could threaten his neighbors or the West.

So he didn't have any actual weapons, and he didn't have any means to either procure, produce, or even use any actual weapons, but he had desire.

Y'know, I have the desire to cure brain cancer. I don't have any medical training or experience, or even any money to go to medical school, but I have the desire. I also have the desire to have red laser beams shoot out of my eyes whenever somebody cuts me off in traffic. I have never actually had red laser beams shoot out of my eyes -- occasionally they get a little bloodshot from the carbon monoxide, but that's about it -- but the desire is definitely there.

According to the Bush administration, none of that reality stuff matters; the desire is the only thing that counts. So brain cancer and rude drivers better watch their backs, G, 'cause Sister Novena's clearly an imminent threat. You pull in front of me without signaling first, and the only smoking gun you're gonna see is a mushroom cloud.

PS: In case you've forgotten how absolutely, unequivocally, unbelievably goddamn sure they were about WMDs in Iraq, be sure to check out this page of quotes. They're either liars or incompetents; either way, they must go.

PPS: I guess now we know why Saddam didn't disarm by March of 2003, eh? Pretty hard to give up something you haven't got...
3:07 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Cheney Spikes An Own-Goal Point

At one point this evening, Dick Cheney invited viewers of the V.P. debate to go visit FactCheck.com. This was almost certainly an error, since FactCheck.com is owned by George Soros and has nothing nice to say about George Bush or Dick Cheney.

What he probably meant to do was invite viewers to go visit FactCheck.org, which is a non-partisan group. Gosh-durn this befuddling new-fangled technology...

But y'know what? It doesn't matter anyway; it still would've been a favor. Here's the current headline:

Bush Mischaracterizes Kerry's Health Plan

Sweet.

1:19 AM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Tuesday, October 05, 2004
The Bet

Jesse at Pandagon lays out the terms of a bet: even though the CIA -- and the administration -- have insisted over and over again that there's no connection between Saddam and al Qaeda, Cheney keeps saying there is.

So how long will it take Cheney to blurt out that particular falsehood at the debate tonight?

Update: If you bet fewer than ten minutes before the big lie was unfurled, you win!
7:20 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Bush's Complete Record On The Environment

Oh lord.
3:07 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Anticipation, Both Sweet And Fearsome

Warning: the following post clearly demonstrates my inherent geekiness. If anyone reading this has been laboring under the misconception that I am even remotely "cool", and wishes to remain ignorant of this less-dignified aspect of my personality, it would probably be best if you looked away now.

The cast for the new feature film version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, as far as it has been selected so far, is absolutely fucking perfect. I don't know what brilliant minds are working in casting these days, but every time a film I'm really worried about being good comes along, the bastards in casting nail it right to the wall.

I have a special attachment to this book (at least through the fourth volume; "Mostly Harmless" was pretty awful), so I view the upcoming release with both hope and anxiety. These characters have been running around the inside of my head since I was approximately ten years old; the original BBC mini-series (which I didn't buy even as a kid) didn't manage to dislodge my own vision, but a relatively big-budget feature probably could. Thus, it's imperative that it's done right.

I admit to having concerns about the way Marvin the Paranoid Android is being portrayed. I just pictured him taller, and not having Willow inside him. Otherwise, all looks very promising. The two most crucial roles:

Arthur Dent - Martin Freeman, the doughy-faced (and rather lovely) Fisher-Price man from The Office. Absolutely perfect.

Ford Prefect - Mos Def. Not what I had envisioned, but I'm willing to give him a try.

Even the minor roles are cool: Steve Pemberton (Tubbs Tattsyrup, et al. from "The League of Gentlemen," the finest show to come out of the UK in a decade) plays Mr. Prosser; and John Malkovich, who is practically God himself, is playing Humma Kavula. (I didn't remember him at first either, don't worry.)

The only question now is the director, which is some guy named Garth Jennings. Never heard of him? That's because he's hardly done anything ever. (Okay, he did a Blur video, but that's it.) So I figure he'll either do a Spike Jonze and blow us all away, or alternately, just blow.

1:55 AM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Monday, October 04, 2004
We're Not The Boss of Bush

Still don't quite "get" that whole George W. Bush thing? I mean, seriously, what's up with this guy? For three years the whole country assumes he's "strong and resolute™," but then he gets up on stage and acts like a petulant teenager listening to a parental lecture on the purpose of curfews. How'd we get from adolescent entitlement to war president and back again?

Here's all you need to know.
4:59 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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The Duck Rank-And-File

I had a pretty good night tonight. First, I went to the wrap party for Lee's film; it was a small affair at Gus's Fried Chicken on Front Street (rumored to serve among the best fried chicken in the country, and although I don't love the stuff as much as some, I have to admit that it was some goddamn fine fried chicken). We hung around and chatted, indulged in last-chance hugs with people who (let's be honest) we probably won't see again unless it's by accident, and stuffed ourselves with chicken. I am, admittedly, a bit uncomfortably full tonight.

Then Diana and I stopped by the Co-op, where Morgan gave me a really great piece of news which I shall not divulge in this particular blog at this particular time, but which I will hopefully be able to explain at length in the very near future. Suffice to say, it made me quite happy.

And best of all, having finally gotten a draft of this fucking screenplay done, I got to hand it out to people for feedback. It's a bit of a mystery even to me what I handed them in the end; last night, in a fit of determination, I sat down and forced myself to write the thing from start to finish. I started at the first word, wrote straight through to the last, and haven't re-read a bit of it since then. Having fretted over it for weeks on end, I'm giving myself some time off (to let it simmer a bit) before I tackle a re-write. So for now I just wait nervously to see if people think I'm the talentless hack I sometimes worry I am.

So tonight, for the first time in literally months and months, I'm all caught up... all my little duckies are in tidy rows. It won't last long, but it's a nice feeling for the moment.
1:54 AM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Saturday, October 02, 2004
Digging For Fire

A few random life notes:

I had an interesting dream last night. I was in the living room -- I can't remember what I was doing, but I managed to knock a hole in one of the walls. And inside the hole, in the gap inside the wall, was fire. It wasn't consuming anything, and I didn't feel in any danger, but I was astonished that it had been there all that time and I'd never noticed it.

Being something of an admirer of Carl Jung, I immediately went looking through dream dictionaries to glean some insight. The best statement I found was this:
To dream that a house is on fire, signifies passion and loving companions.

So if my house was on fire but I didn't know it, maybe I love someone subconsciously? Maybe I love someone and don't realize that I do? Now there's an intriguing prospect...

This might seem like an insignificant detail, but I was thrilled today to get a Levenger catalog in the mail, especially since I hadn't requested one. I could sit and drool over leather-bound journals, fountain pens, and glass-doored bookshelves all day; I am admittedly a sucker for high-end writing implements and library supplies. (My mother might be tempted to say I get that from my father, but she probably knows better than to invoke the inevitable reaction, at least not over such a trivial thing.) Perhaps one day I'll even have enough money to indulge in some. To my subconscious crush: don't buy me flowers and diamonds, say it with electronics, and imported calfskin diaries.

Oh, and I've had La Marseillaise stuck in my head all day. It was fun for a while, but... yeah, well, you know.
3:28 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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I Mozilla

Night before last I downloaded some new software; I got Trillian at Shaw's recommendation (and it's working out great so far, I'm very pleased), and I also got Mozilla's new browser and email client, Firefox and Thunderbird respectively.

I used to have the old Mozilla browser on my laptop before it chucked it, and I really, really enjoyed it. I just wanted to confirm that Firefox is even better; it's got all kinds of groovy features that I've been playing with and tweaking since I installed it. I've got my bookmarks all sorted out, I've got weather in my menu bar, I've got the correct time and date, I've got an indicator for my Gmail account, etc. etc., gush gush gush. Tabbed navigation alone is reason enough to ditch lesser browsers, and I've got a slick skin to make it pretty. It's an excellent program.

Why anybody even farts around with Explorer anymore is beyond me. I bet there's a master's thesis -- hell, maybe even a doctoral thesis -- in open-source software as an model for furthering the collective good and trumping the free market in the process.
1:09 AM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Friday, October 01, 2004
Flip-Flopper

I'm sorry... I just keep finding more cool stuff to post. From Truthout, a very readable commentary on the debate:

The second embarrassing moment came after Bush repeated his mantra about "staying the course" until the paint started to peel off the podium he was slouching over. We have to be resolute, we have to stay the course, we cannot send mixed messages to our troops and the world...and yet after an hour of bombardment from Kerry, Bush finally said, "Well, I think -- listen, I fully agree that one should shift tactics, and we will, in Iraq."

So, OK, let me get this straight: We have to stay the course and not send mixed messages, and you've been blowing voluminous amounts of sunshine up the collective American backside for weeks about how boffo the Iraq situation is, but after an hour of taking rhetorical body blows from your opponent, you suddenly claim we are going to change tactics? It seemed for all the world that John Kerry, his opponent, convinced Bush that things in Iraq are as bad as people have been saying for weeks and months now.
5:23 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Picture of the Day

5:15 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Post-Game Wrap-up

Last night I did a post on the debate as I personally saw it; but as we all know, that's only half the game. A big part of "what really happened" (sometimes including things that didn't really happen) comes from the post-debate analysis and commentary. And the information society has been buzzing with activity last night and all day today.

The consensus: Kerry won it, hands-down.

As pointed out elsewhere, Kerry's victory wasn't particularly about how great Kerry was, it was about how utterly substandard Bush was. Kerry did nothing more than come on and speak rationally, making his points competently and succinctly -- which is, after all, the point of a debate. Bush, on the other hand was a cranky, fidgety mess who floundered his way through nonsense answers. I wouldn't even attempt to put it better than James Wolcott has:
Since then Bush has been wheeled out into forums where no one can dare question or contradict his majesty, where he can lean forward and repeat ad nauseam his patented soundbites. Last night I believe we saw the ugly comeback of the private face of Bush--the irritable expressions he flashes subordinates when he's presented with information he doesn't like or feels someone's taken up too much of his time or is pressed to explain himself to people he shouldn't have to explain himself to because he's the president and fuck you. The notion that Bush is "likeable" has always been laughable. It takes a Washington pundit to be that dumb. He's an angry, spoiled, resentful little big man--I use "little big man" in the Reichian sense of a small personality who puffs himself up to look big through bluster and swagger but remains a scheming coward inside--and next to a genuinely big man like Kerry, shrunk before the camera's eyes.

Without a hand-picked crowd of oath-signing supporters and a teleprompter, the guy's at a complete loss. When somebody actually dares to disagree or question him, he reverts to his irritable fratboy-king persona. I mean, seriously, what did we expect? For a week we've been hearing about what a phenomenal debater he is, but when it comes to the truly important subjects, he's hopelessly out of his depth, and looks it.

But we've still two Presidential debates to go, so we can't afford to become complacent. Remember, foreign policy is the subject that Bush was supposed to have in the bag; this is considered his strongest case. A week from today Bush and Kerry will be talking Town Hall-style in St. Louis with a bunch of so-called "soft supporters" asking the questions (probably Bush's best chance to recover somewhat from this blow); and on 13 Oct. they'll be in Tempe, Arizona talking domestic policy and the economy. I expect we'll be hearing Bush say the phrase "tax cuts" over and over and over again like a glitchy robot that night, 'cause he's got nothing else he can possibly say. Except maybe "gay marriage" to wind up the yokelry.

Me, I think Bush is working way too hard. Poor guy only gets every third month off; we should get together and give him a nice, long vacation.

PS: Wait, I forgot Poland! Wonderful Poland, who stands side-by-side with American troops, and whom Bush so clearly sought to honor last night:
"They deceived us about the weapons of mass destruction, that's true. We were taken for a ride."
~ President Aleksander Kwasniewski of Poland
(source)

By the way, Poland's pulling out. Apparently they agree with Kerry that the Iraq war is a catastrophe.

PPS: Fox News is so at a loss for anything right-wingerish to say that they've resorted to simply making shit up.

Also: Here's a full transcript of the debate. And a seriously funny look at what Bush was furiously scribbling last night.
5:15 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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