Tuesday, May 31, 2005
With Liberty and Annual Physical Examinations For All

Here's something to read: "a Republican argument for universal healthcare."

You know what terror is? Terror is not being able to take your kids to a doctor when they're sick or injured, or delaying a doctor visit until the last possible moment -- when the condition has become so serious that the child is in physical danger, likewise serious enough that the problem has become more difficult to treat -- because the costs of that medical treatment could drag your entire family back into poverty or years of economic hardship. Terror is having recovered from a deadly illness -- cancer, organ failure, traumatic injury -- only to be punished for your misfortune with a lifetime of financial insolvency. Terror is trying to take care of a sick family member when you have no money, or watching someone you love suffer because you can't afford the help you and they require. Millions of Americans live in low-level, constant terror not because of threats from militant Islamicists, but because they can't afford the prescriptions that keep them alive and healthy, can't afford the annual check-ups that help prevent problems from developing, and spend their lives knowing that if something happens to them, even if their misfortune doesn't actually kill them, it can easily destroy their lives.

Give me universal healthcare, and I'll take my fucking chances with Bin Laden and Zarqawi; I'm millions of times more likely to die from untreated illness than I am from a terrorist plot. It's absurd that in this, "the wealthiest nation in the world," there's anyone left who can't see a doctor when they need one, much less millions of such people. A healthy population is good for all of us -- whether we use universal health care or not -- and we should all be willing to bear some of the costs not only of keeping our own family well, but of keeping our entire population healthy and productive. By banding together, we can drive costs down, give access to everyone, and eliminate a major source of fear and anxiety (not to mention the major source of personal bankruptcy, another massive drag on our collective national productivity and economic wellbeing) from American life.

Why does the Republican party hate the American people?
3:23 PM ::
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Monday, May 30, 2005
A Memorial

... to those whose lives could, as of this moment, still be spared -- but won't be.
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Saturday, May 28, 2005
Absence-Minded

Apologies to anyone who has tried to contact me without success during the last two weeks, or whose functions I have failed to attend, or who just feels generally neglected: it's not you, it's me. I've been aggressively disengaged since I got back to Memphis, and only the most immediate concerns have gotten much attention from me. It almost seems as if my Vermont reclusivity has become a bit entrenched; up there, days can go by without my speaking a work to anyone, and while I acclimatized myself to solitude somewhat grudgingly, it's not entirely against my nature so some effort is required on my part to re-acclimatize myself to being sociable.

Because I am, after all, very much an introvert, although an introvert of that odd kind that really loves to be around people -- just not unfamiliar people, and especially not groups of unfamiliar people. New people exhaust me, and I seem to have a deep-seated need to be invited into social groups; I'm rarely brazen enough to inject myself into the lives of strangers (although it happens on rare occasions.) Still, I do deeply love my friends, even if I don't tell them so often enough, and it was a bit of a wrench to go from having a just-right social life here to living on a barren social tundra in Vermont... which isn't to say that I don't know anyone there, just that I wouldn't call any of those people friends exactly. I think of them as something like life-scale passers-by.

I did go to midtown tonight to see a few more people I've missed (though not all the ones I was looking forward to seeing), and was quite touched to discover that they'd missed me as well. It wasn't exactly an overt welcome home, but it kinda felt like one. A few more days of reclusion (is that a word? well it is now) would do me good, but I'm feeling more like re-engaging with my old Memphis life, if only for a little while.

On the drive home I listened to Elvis Costello's "Beyond Belief" like fifty fucking times. I'm one of those people who picks a song and obsesses over it until I'm so sick of it I can't bear to hear it again for years; in this particular instance I was concentrating rather deeply on the pattern of hard and soft syllables in the first verse, the way the harder sounds become percussive and the softer ones slip between them. I can only make out about half the words (I intentionally avoid the lyric sheets for this one), but I'm pretty amazed by the song. I used to love it when I was thirteen or fourteen, and subsequently forgot about it for more than a decade; then, a month or so ago, a fantastic radio station up north (which plays a lot of Elvis Costello, although usually only the obvious songs, which are invariably not the ones my subconscious is most eager to hear) played that song, and the desire to revisit the other Elvis, whom I've mostly ignored, took hold in my mind and began to grow. Now, going back over all his classic songs, it's like hearing brand new songs that I already know all the words to.

I don't care so much for his recent stuff, though.

Possibly -- probably -- my Memphian friends will find me gradually coming out from under my rock; kicking me sometimes helps get me back in motion, so feel free.

And yeah, I know, I'm barely mentioning politics on this blog these days (see, I told you I could do it); it's not for lack of anything interesting going on, it's just that I can't bear to think about it anymore. Every now and then maybe, but not on a daily basis -- I have my spiritual wellbeing to consider; and I'm convinced that the fucking fundies and their right-wing lapdogs would love nothing so much than to crush my soul under an avalanche of bullshit. And it's hard to come back down here when you've been in the land of the groovy people -- not that Vermonters are without fault, but at least they're not all uptight about it.
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Thursday, May 26, 2005
Video Orgy

I have cast my immediate fate to the wind for the moment and have declared the next few days at least to be my official summer vacation. I've been spinning my wheels since I got back, not accomplishing much in the process, and to be honest my heart's just not in it yet. I haven't had a good slack-fest in months, so I'm taking one now. Just a short one. Unless something comes up.

Anyway, in preparation for a few days of sitting around aggressively doing fuck-all, I stocked up on magazines and DVDs. I went to Black Lodge and had a look around -- my god, there's so much I've missed, so many films I desperately want to see, and so few hours in the day...

I have decided -- not without hesitance-- to tackle one of the big works of the Russian cinema: Tarkvosky's Andrei Rublev. Russian film is most often as dense and ponderous as Russian literature, and Tarkovsky is the king of the slow-moving Russian epic. And this is the full version I've got here, capping off at a staggering 205 minutes... that's like a LOTR extended edition except without all the action or adventure or romance or other exciting stuff. I've never actually made it all the way through a Tarkovsky film -- they're so boring you can almost hear major organs start to shut down in protest about halfway in -- but people keep telling me that if you just stick with it long enough, you break through the ennui-barrier and something cool happens. A car chase? Explosions? Radioactive monsters? Graphic sex? These all seem doubtful... probably just a shift in perception or something. I am ostensibly professionally trained to be up to this kind of cinematic challenge, though, so I'll feel like a loser if I can't get through it even without the sex and violence. But still, 205 minutes is a long time for nothing to happen. Anyway, once I get my nerve up to actually watch it, I'll let you know how it turns out. (Watch for my upcoming review of Andrei Rublev with spoilers!) (Seriously, though, it's said to be absolutely amazing.)

Apart from that I also picked up a little Godard, Kurosawa's Yume (Dreams), and Mike Leigh's Naked. I still insist that Naked is Leigh's absolute best, which makes it that much more of a shame that you can't find it easily in the United States. So a pretty heavy bunch of stuff all things considered... and there I meant to get something light and diverting. Oh well.
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Monday, May 23, 2005
Some More Of The Blah Blah Blah

Gosh, it's been a while since I posted last, eh? The simple fact of the matter is, I've gotten spoiled by broadband. After two months of high-speed college-sponsored internet access, this pokey little dial-up connection is almost painful, and much of my net-based activites are being neglected in favor of, like, y'know actual human interaction. And stuff.

I'm getting tense being back here; it didn't take long for the Bush-heads to get to me. Everywhere I go I see those fucking "W" stickers and they piss me off. Assholes in their SUVs with their fucking ribbon magnets -- but do they send their kids to sign up for the military, or go enlist themselves? Fuck no; let somebody else do the bleeding and dying. They've got their "support the troops" magnet, isn't that sacrifice enough? Isn't nominal support and maybe the intimidation of a few queers and liberals sufficient service to their nation? Jeez, are they expected to actually back their shit up or something? Dubya has yet to send Jenna and Not-Jenna away to donate a couple of limbs to the war, so why should they send their sons and daughters? And hell, they can afford the $100 fill-ups, so what the fuck do they care how many people die? Leave that for the farm kids and immigrants, that's what the lower classes are for.

I hate Bush republicans. I really do. I said to someone yesterday, I'm sure the half dozen Bushies in our little hippie paradise up north feel much the way I do down here, but then my companion helpfully pointed out that they should feel that way, they deserve every bit of social discomfort they get. We can hope in time their support becomes a great deal more uncomfortable. If there were any justice, it would be the pro-Bush people who'd feel afraid of voicing their allegiances, not me.

Anyway... I've seen two movies in the last two days, so I thought I'd mention 'em. Everybody else has.

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith: Lucas is a marketing genius; this film is a coup. It was a bold strategy -- make the first two of the three films so rancid that the audience's expectations fall through the floor, and the third is guaranteed to seem magnificent by comparison -- but hell if it didn't work. I'm being a bit harsh (it's the residual bitterness from the last two), as the film's actually pretty decent... in fact, I'd go so far as to say it's the second-best of the six; The Empire Strikes Back will always be #1. Darth Vader's always been the most compelling character in the series, so it's good to have a film devoted entirely to him; I'm not quite sure that I buy Anakin's transformation into James Earl Jones, but I guess he was sufficiently mangled towards the end to make the case that there wasn't much left of ol' Ani by the time the helmet went on. Hayden Christensen was terrible, but I think in a good way... given that Mark Hamill was equally as terrible, the parent-child link between the characters actually feels pretty solid. I'm always a little disappointed to see Ewan MacGregor in a film where he doesn't whip it out -- his genitalia flapping in the breeze is his whole shtick, how can they just leave it out? -- but I think he does a pretty convincing impersonation of Alec Guinness.

And George Lucas remains the all-time worst writer of dialogue in the history of cinema. His dialogue was so bad he even rendered Samuel L. Jackson helpless in the face of its soul-sucking badness. Lucas' dialogue is so bad you could "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolfe?" in the same room with it, and George and Martha's wittiness would actually be drained away by lines like:

Anakin: "You're so beautiful."
Padme: "It's only because I'm so in love."
Anakin: "No, it's because I'm so in love with you."

Barf barf barf.

And yeah, I know, Lucas claims that since he wrote this story during the Nixon administration, it can't possibly be about Bush -- nudge, wink. We all know what's what, though, don't we? And I say this as someone who uniformly discounts the idea that popular films make direct statements on specific political events... but there were some moments in this film that were just too blatant not to be assumed to be references to (ahem) our current state of affairs. But that's cool; it's good to know that, as dreadful a writer as Lucas is, he's our dreadful writer.

It's surely the most deserving Star Wars film in decades, and actually does a pretty good job of returning to the feel of the first trilogy. I wouldn't say that it completely makes up for the pair of dog's breakfasts that were the previous two films, but it's nice that he ended the whole thing on a high note.

Palindromes: Good ol' Todd Solondz, he's so misunderstood. People hate his films -- and not just the "sensitive," but the too-earnest as well -- but only because they can't understand that we're only hurt by the things we love, and that sometimes our only recourse is to laugh off the pain. This isn't Solondz' easiest film, and it's not easily pinned down -- I don't think it actually has much to do with its most obvious potential subject, and instead has much more to do with provoking the audience to consider its collective assumptions and attitudes. Like all of his work, the understanding only comes with time and consideration, and ideally in discussion with other people. Solondz films are like cinematic Rorschach blots; you can tell a lot about what other people think (and what you think yourself) by what they see in them. They're some of the most deeply layered films in American cinema, always encouraging you to make new connections, see new patterns, strange little references shared between films, echoes of previous characters and situations. I'd even venture to suggest that taken as a body of work, Solondz' films are almost Joycean in scope; there's a lot more going on here than you'd ever notice at first glance. Definitely worth seeing, provided you're willing to play along.
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Thursday, May 19, 2005
Neither A Discovery Nor Healthy

The Discovery Health Channel has given up all pretense of respectable informational programming. The current show is "I'm My Own Twin," and up next, according to the guide, is "Face-Eating Tumor." Now that's some good watchin'!

Future programs:

"Draining a Cyst"
"Projectile Vomiting"
"Deformed Fetuses Floating in Jars"
"Removal of a Gangrenous Toe"
"Watery Diarrhea"
"Hideous Skin Diseases of the Bible (HD)"
"Two Hours of Graphic Video of Live Births"
"Poking At Guts With a Stick"
"Boobs"

God bless America.

Update: The next show is "Archie the 84-Pound Baby". I rest my case.
8:53 PM ::
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Tuesday, May 17, 2005
So Here I Am Again

My trip started with the customary rain and thick fog, but thank god for once that finally gave way to patchy clouds, and eventually on the second day to bright sunshine. I was starting to think I was cursed, y'know? I've gotten to the point that I don't even need a map to make this trip -- I know exactly where my interstate interchanges are, I know where my refuelling stops are, and I recognize the territory I'm travelling without thinking about it. That geographical relaxation makes it easier to consider the landscape... I was struck this time by the number of mountain ranges I pass through on the road between Vermont and Mississippi. I start in the Greens, then pass through the Adirondacks, the Catskills, the Poconos, the Cumberlands, and the Great Smokies -- all of which, of course, are subsets of the larger Appalachians, but driving through them in rapid succession you can sense the differentness of them all. The Poconos are high but gentle; the Smokies are lower but still bear the shadows of the cragginess they must have possessed in some remote geologic age. To lump 'em all together as Appalachians seems unfair to their distinctive nature. But then, maybe I'm just thinking about it too much.

Thinking too much, of course, being one of the major characteristics of a long, solitary trip. I think driving encourages meditative thought; the act of driving requires a certain low-level mental engagement, but doesn't require so many mental resources that you can't apply some of the effort to other things. Every trip produces its own minor epiphanies; sometimes they're just old material recycled, but sometimes something new comes up. Yesterday I was considering noise and my own tendency towards silence.

I'm a pretty quiet person -- I don't speak loudly (in fact, I find it physically difficult to shout much above my normal range), I walk and move around quietly, I'm careful about closing doors, and I find accidentally making loud noises (dropping something, slamming a door behind me, that kind of thing) deeply embarrassing. That's one side of things, most of which could be put down to social grace or politeness. The other side, I think, is more metaphysical and has to do with voice (or rather voicelessness.) I tend to be socially reserved, I don't often speak to people unless they speak to me first, and while I can speak publicly with no problem (provided I don't have to work too hard to project to the back of the room) that's about all I can do. And that seems strange to me... I don't think I was always like that.

When I was a little girl (5, 6, 7 years old) I sang my ass off. I sang to my mother, I sang to my grandparents, I was happy to sing in public -- the music teacher at my elementary school used to give me solo bits on a regular basis because I was one of the few kindergarteners who could carry a tune, and I loved it. But by the time I was ten, that was gone -- I can remember by the fourth grade the idea of singing in front of people produced the total vocal shutdown effect that it still produces today: my throat closes up, my chest constricts, all the blood rushes to my face, and it requires enormous effort even to speak a few words. I have my theories about what produced this, but that's probably beside the point (and too personal for a blog... nobody wants to hear about it). The point is, somewhere along the way I lost it. And that seems... sad.

So I'm thinking maybe I should make some attempt to reclaim some of that ability. Because it isn't just about singing in public or playing an instrument -- it's not as if I'm going to make either of those things a major focal point in my own life -- but rather about feeling okay about making myself heard. That's something I'm not so good at, and yesterday, driving in the car and letting my mind wander, it occured to me that these two things might be connected.

So I'm opening the floor to suggestions -- especially from you noisy people. What do y'all think?

PS: And then there's my mother -- without going into too much detail, she suffers from a physical disability that strangles off her voice. It can be treated, but it's a curiously apt physical metaphor for how I feel sometimes, and it's interesting that we share that in common, even on different levels. If she reads this post (and she will eventually), maybe she'll comment on her thing -- she's been on television for it, so I'm sure it's no big deal, but it's her medical condition, not mine, so I think I should leave it up to her.
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Saturday, May 14, 2005
Robert Goulet Directing Traffic At 3 PM*



the Brattleboro traffic cop


Fun fact: the cop who invariably ends up directing traffic at the Brat. farmer's market looks exactly like Robert Goulet. I mean exactly; it's doppleganger city. Except our Goulet is in a cop uniform with one of those mountie hats with the little tassels on the front.

I'm hoping that I don't actually have as much crap to pack as it currently looks like I do... when stuff gets spread out, sometimes it looks like a lot more than it really is. Please, please God, let that be true this time. 'Cause I don't want to be up past midnight, I got a long way to go tomorrow.

Taking stuff down to the basement storage room has proven to be more a matter of a controlled fall down the stairs than an orderly pick-up-and-carry thing. I kinda ski the stuff down, carefully bracing myself on each step lest the load produce more momentum than I can resist once gravity takes hold. I'm glad I've been building up my upper-body strength recently -- better sore arms than a sore back.

Everybody else has their mommies and daddies here to haul their shit for them... goddamn self-sufficiency, it's just a pain in the ass.

This blog will probably resume sometime on Tuesday. Thanks for tuning in and, as always, thanks for your support.

PS: Hey Smithers, why don't you post something while I'm gone? You still got the keys, right?

PPS: A sure sign of of a sad zeitgeist: the computer is the very, very last thing to be packed up.

Update: It's midnight, I'm packed (apart from the computer, obviously), and I only have a few trips up and down those goddamn stairs tomorrow. All is well.



* Ha! I made a secret funny (though not a very good one.)
5:52 PM ::
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Friday, May 13, 2005
I Have Not Yet Begun To Pack

... mostly 'cause at the moment I'm knee-deep in laundry. The actual packing starts tonight, but tomorrow might be a bit challenging -- it's not the packing that's hard, it's the schlepping heavy stuff down two flights of spiraly stairs, one of which is currently as dark as a cave. But all my errands have been run, so the packing is the only thing left to do (inbetween van runs.) That, and filling in the holes I made in the walls with toothpaste.

I don't have much more to say here before I go, but I do want to direct everyone's attention to this excellent post at the Rude Pundit:

There's the appointee to the Bush administration's FDA advisor committee on reproductive health drugs, W. David Hager, who as an OB/GYN for Jesus refused to prescribe contraceptives for unmarried women and has written that women who suffer from PMS should pray for help. Apparently one reason Hager never worred about contraception is because he loves the ass fucking. He loves the ass fucking so goddamn much that he raped his (now ex-)wife's ass repeatedly for years. Said the former Mrs., Linda Davis, "I would be asleep and since [the ass fucking] was painful and threatening, I woke up. Sometimes I acquiesced once he had started, just to make it go faster, and sometimes I tried to push him off.... I would [confront] David later, and he would say, 'You asked me to do that,' and I would say, 'No, I never asked for it.'" Hager believes he was called by God to stop abortion and emergency contraception. But apparently God was too busy to slip into his calls to Hager, "Hey, Davey, by the way, stop raping your wife's asshole. It's fucked-up and, frankly, it's kinda gay."

Wouldn't it be cool if the president's appointee to head up the FDA committee on reproductive health maybe actually, y'know, liked women? I mean in a non-ass-raping way. That seems to me like it would be a good thing. But then, I'm just an immoral, deviant liberal... it's not the anal sex part of this I have a problem with, it's more the rape part. I dunno, I just don't think I'd want a rapist as my OB/GYN, and I certainly don't want one making decisions about my sexual and reproductive life. I'm funny like that.

Apparently the Republicans and the president think anal rape is just groovy, though... but consensual anal sex between two people of the same sex is an abomination. I admit Republican logic escapes me at times.

PS You can read all about Hager the Ass-raping Baptist Gynecologist at The Nation. These are the people who want to lead America to a bright new "moral" future. And they wonder why I don't want to go.
5:05 PM ::
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Thursday, May 12, 2005
Yawn

Life without academic work, it turns out, is really boring. Not only is the lack of work boring in itself, but it also makes other activities less fun since you're not avoiding academic work by doing them.

I know, some people are just never happy.

A lot of people are already starting to quit the scene and head home for the summer -- I'm here until Sunday morning because I've gotta work. I probably could've gotten out of it, but I could use the money, and I want this job back next term so I figure I should put in the extra effort. And anyway, I need the extra days to get my stuff sorted. It's a bit tricky, though, since I only brought with me those things that I use on a regular basis, it's hard to decide which things to pack up -- putting them beyond my use -- and which to leave out until the last minute.

I'll be back in Memphis on Monday, and holding court at the Co-op on Tuesday evening (not that anyone there knows who I am anymore, apart from Morgan and a couple of other old-timers. Last time I was around, all the current workshoppers looked at me like I was some rank newb... to which I respond, "phfft, this is MY workshop, bitches! I'm bein' nice to let y'all pass through!" *SNAP*)

Once I get settled in a bit, it'll be off to the saltmines... with luck, I'll be temping at my mother's place of employment (do I smell $15/hour?). She just received a not-particularly-wanted promotion there... it's weird, people fall all over themselves to give my mother jobs. This is, I believe, the second major employer to actually invent a job just so they could hire her for it... hell, once a branch office went under because she left. . Now that's power -- in a modest, administrative kind of way, albeit. Still, if I can ever get people to do that kind of stuff for me in film work, I'll be as happy as a clam.
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Monday, May 09, 2005
A Thousand Times Bleh

I've had a truly lame week... the kind of week where every attempt at forward motion seems to be met by the sudden, concrete presence of previously-unseen lampposts and sliding glass doors, a week of being gently and repeatedly clotheslined; a week in which I've covered more ground by tripping over myself than by striding confidently ahead. It's that kind of rare week that demands booze and vile, sick jokes at the expense of love and innocence and good intentions... and most people would misinterpret that as bitterness, not recognizing that the best jokes are told at the expense of those things we hold the closest.

Unfortunately, there's nobody here to drink with me, nobody to see my humble pratfalls, and nobody to hear my filthy jokes. And that's probably the best punch line of all.

This blog is likely to be quiet for a week or so. I have a little more work to do before I formally abandon the term; then I have to pack my life into plastic tubs (to keep out the water and the bugs and the mice -- wouldn't be nice to come back and find that one's life has been shredded to bits by little yellow teeth in one's absence) and head back down south. And frankly, I've just had enough of everything for right now. But there's nothing wrong with me that running a thousand solitary miles under my wheels won't cure, and it'll be good to be back in the physical presence of people I love. I could do with a hug, preferably the real kind.

PS: And now the people in the next room are having noisy sex... if that ain't just the cherry on top of this hunk of angst-flavored cake.
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Saturday, May 07, 2005
Hippies In The Mist

One of the things I really love about living in semi-rural Vermont is the frequent opportunity to observe our local natural world going about its natural business. Brief encounters with various critters are relatively common -- landowners here tend to gently maintain large patches of wooded areas, so critters can basically move freely about the area without fear of harm. Usually they stay well away from areas of human inhabitation, but now and then they venture closer and, if your timing's good, sometime's you're there when they appear.

Last night, for example, I was headed down to the college maintenance building to pick up the van for my late-night run, when a young doe bolted straight across my path, not ten feet away, and off across a nearby field. Whitetail deer are certainly not remotely uncommon around here, but it's still exhilerating to see one up close. My favorite encounter was years ago on a dirt road, where I saw a big ol' mama moose and her two baby mooselets grazing on ferns in a culvert. I also had a very exciting, tense moment with a young bull moose one day, as he leapt over a low stone wall onto the road about a hundred feet ahead of my car; I stopped, and he spent maybe twenty seconds trying to figure out whether he should run for his life or charge my car. Fortunately for me, he chose to do the former.

But this morning was, I think, the most bizarre encounter I've had with the fauna of southern Vermont. I was driving the van along the college road, when suddenly some twelve or fifteen Morris dancers -- a small herd, complete with males, females, and juveniles -- appeared before me, already in their full spring plumage: they had their bells, their sticks, their suspenders and knee garters and little hats, their twirly rags, the whole bit, dancing happily along the road. It was really quite heartwarming. They made way for me -- they're very gentle and friendly -- and I eased past. When I drove by again half an hour later, they were gone without any trace.

They must live around here somewhere -- I've had to deal with a Morris dancer infestation before (Smithers knows what I'm talking about), so I'd just as soon they stay out in the woods, frankly. They're a bit like starlings, another British import to this country -- lovely in small numbers, but if you don't keep their populations under control it can all become a bit much. And since they don't have any natural predators in this area (lager louts, football hooligans, rednecks, mountain lions), that's a big if.

But when they materialize from the misty woods along the roadside and gradually converge into their neat rows and start hopping and twirling in the morning light, you just can't bring yourself to hate them. If Hare Krishnas are the urban pigeons of the strange-but-cheery, vaguely-hypnotic cultish dance world, then Morris dancers are surely the doves.
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Friday, May 06, 2005
Here's A George W. Bush I'd Vote For

Doug (whose blog is currently nonfunctional, although he says that may change soon -- I hope so) directed me to the Party Party website, where they're hosting an inspired sorta Take a Walk on the Wild Side / Imagine mash-up as "sung" by George W. Bush. These are the same peeople who did that fantastic Dubya-does-Sunday Bloody Sunday cover, which is also here, along with a bunch of stuff I haven't gotten to listen to yet.

It's kinda heartbreaking, really... I miss this America. I miss it a whole lot. And that's not snark -- that's really true, I miss it every single day.

Anyway, thanks to Doug -- in lieu of his blog, go visit his band website: chessclubrocks.com and if you're in Memphis, go see their show tomorrow night -- 10 PM at Ernestine and Hazel's.
3:40 PM ::
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Finally Not Sick

Okay... fever's gone... I still feel a little tired, a bit of a low-energy vibe today, but otherwise things seem to be back to normal.

And hey, I only lost three productive days, so I've still got five and a half left... admittedly three of them will be continually interrupted by van runs, though. (Man, I'm so screwed.)
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Wednesday, May 04, 2005
Loathsome

This is just too repulsive for words.

From a British government internal memo:

C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.

(source)

Let me highlight the most important part of that passage:

Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.

"Justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD... intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy..."

You know what that means, right? You understand what they're saying, right? Just in case you don't, I'll clarify it for you: they're saying that WMD and terrorism was an excuse, and that they knew all along the excuse was bogus.

Got it? The Bush administration lied us into a war in which, as of right now, 1,593 American troops have been killed, 1,773 coalition troops total, not to mention roughly 100,000 innocent Iraqi civilians. Or, at least, so says our closest ally in that war (even if they didn't actually mean for that to get out publicly.)

Proud, Republicans? Does it make you feel good to know that you impeached one president for getting some head on the job while you stick your fingers in your ears and squeeze your eyes shut and go lalalalalala when it becomes blatantly obvious that your guy is a certifiable war criminal? And all for what? Cheap gas? Are you shitting me?

Go read the whole memo, it contains many juicy tidbits of vile criminality: that the invasion was originally timed for electoral benefit in the United States, that there was no post-invasion planning being done, that Bush had already decided to attack Iraq eight months before the actual invasion (that is to say, well before the phrase "WMD" ever entered the American lexicon), that the whole UN-inspectors thing was a massive, steaming load of bullshit from the beginning, and that they knew the war was illegal.

Take a good look at yourselves, Republicans, and reflect on what this means. Chickens do eventually come home to roost.

By the way, the "liberal" American media hasn't touched this story so far. Because they're so "liberal," see.
9:01 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Not Still Sick

I just woke up from about fourteen hours of sleep, and while I wouldn't say I feel amazingly great now, I do believe I've fought off that fever. I give the credit to all that vitamin C. I still have the after-effects of a bout with illness -- a tiny creeping headache, and a general, all-pervading feeling of mild exhaustion -- so I think I'm going to continue to go easy today. Fortunately research isn't a physically demanding activity.

Weird how stuff like this happens.

Update: Whoops, it seems I spoke too soon; fever's back. Ugh... maybe a nap will help.

Update 2: Nope, didn't help.
11:29 AM ::
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Tuesday, May 03, 2005
Sick

Well, shit.

Last night while I was plugging away at that screenplay, doing all the fiddly cutting and pasting that presumably nobody else wanted to do, I started feeling a bit off. I was cold, and began to shake, hoping desperately that I was just cold and tired. (It was, to be fair, a bit chilly last night.) Mercifully the screenplay work didn't take as long as it might have -- only about three hours -- but by the time I was done I was bad enough off that I was going a little fuzzy and having increasing difficulty focusing on what I was doing. I finished up and climbed under my covers, praying quietly that a good night's sleep would take care of it, but even after a double dose of ibuprofen the shaking continued unabated for several hours. I didn't have a thermometer so I couldn't tell for sure, but it absolutely felt like a fever. I stayed lucid the whole time, so it couldn't have been higher than 103F or so, but it felt like the fucking black death.

I bundled up and took some aspirin and eventually got to sleep, and woke up this morning feeling not quite as bad, but definitely not well. I've managed to get myself through my day's obligations -- not to mention a stop for vitamin C tablets, a thermometer, and a few days' supply of ramen noodles (mmm... pure refined starch) -- and I'm now gratefully back in my room. But this is the worst possible timing. I still have work to do and a very limited time in which to do it -- all semester long I've managed to avoid the various flus and colds that have taken dowm everyone around me, but I'd rather have gotten one before than now, as I hurtle towards the end-of-term due date. Even a few days of lost productivity will throw me irretrievably off my goals.

The thing is, apart from this fever, nothing especially seems to be wrong: no nausea, no headache, no cough, no congestion, no sore throat, no nothing. Just the chills and the shaking and the feeling generally crappy. I literally went from totally fine around 10 PM to shaking and moaning by 1 AM. I'm going to stay resolutely in my bed for the rest of the night in the hopes of dodging this bullet -- better to lose one day than several if I can manage it. Whether that works or not, though, I don't know. In the meantime, I'm keeping myself full of anti-inflammatory medicines and super-doses of vitmain C (3000 mg/day should be sufficient.)

Bleh.
4:16 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Monday, May 02, 2005
Two For Dave


113/760 - ...octopus Grigori oozes sullenly in his tank...


My plan for this afternoon is to go see The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, 'cause I haven't seen a film purely for pleasure's sake in months. I read the book(s) at least half a dozen times as a kid, so I think I already know what happens, but Martin Freeman's just too cuddly not to go see. I was saddened to discover that I'd already lost the first-in-line advantage to Dave, so finally getting to see it will have lost a tiny fraction of its sweetness. But as far as I know Mat hasn't seen it yet, so there's some consolation.

Anyway, in memory of Douglas Adams, here's a video of his speech "Parrots, the Universe, and Everything", approximately co-inciding with the release of "Last Chance to See."

And as if that wasn't enough to completely frustrate Dave, what with his lack of bandwidth or an inexpensive internet connection, here are Zac Smith's complete page-by-page illustrations for Gravity's Rainbow (760 images total -- they should publish it as a comic book, I might actually get through it then, eh?)

(Yes, I read Screenhead.)

Update: I ended up going later than I expected 'cause the local cinema doesn't do matinees on weekdays. Anyway, here's what I thought: it's not too bad. I guess it wasn't the Hitchhiker's of my wildest dreams, but having seen it, I can't really think of what I'd have them do differently -- it didn't exactly rock my world, but it didn't offend me, either. I thought given the epic scope of the books (sometimes in a good way, later on not so much), they did as good a job wrapping it up into one tidy feature film as anyone could've, and it seemed to be done with genuine affection for Douglas Adams... and at the end of the day, what else can any of us who admire his work really ask?

Marvin was a little irritating, though.

Now, for the rest of the night, it appears I'll be copying and pasting screenplay bits. I'm taking this class, of which the last month has essentially consisted of 13 people writing a screenplay together en masse. (It actually worked out a lot better than I'd have ever expected.) But now we've got something like seven different versions of the revised screenplay floating around, due to be publicly read tomorrow -- and guess who gets to conform them all? I don't know exactly how I fell into this job -- last week I was the only one with a whole screenplay (it was much easier then since everybody wrote a single scene; this time people were in charge of specific characters and other screenplay elements, so everybody did bits of every scene), so somehow I've become the put-it-all-together girl. No, I don't really appreciate it, but it's too late to protest now. I have a feeling I'll be up until dawn doing this...
9:51 AM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Sunday, May 01, 2005
Mae Day

Gonna get this one in while it's technically still timely...



Mae West


Okay, so it's not the May everybody else is talking about, but I'm just not in the mood for talking proles-and-bourgeousie tonight. And anyway, this woman is one of my heroes. If I have an alter-ego, this is her... shorter and blonder, and with bigger hats, but otherwise spot-on. I admire her so much, I have every intention of naming a daughter after her (assuming I ever have a daughter, which is isn't guaranteed on any level.) That, and the name "Mae" is sort of anagrammatically-resonant of my own name, so there's a hint of narcissism involved as well. But who wouldn't want to be associated with one of the most ass-kicking women who ever lived?

It's now less than two weeks until I return to Memphis for (hopefully, probably) a summer of full-time temp work with some filmmaking thrown in. And I've got those academic-related interviews to do, and some other stuff as well. (I guess I'm going to be busy.) The second half of the term has just whizzed by; I actually find myself wishing I had just another couple of weeks -- and not just because I've still got some work I want to do before the end of term. Although admittedly that's a big part of it.

Think I can write forty pages in nine days? I think we're about to find out...
9:50 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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