Wednesday, August 30, 2006

This is simultaneously the best and worst part of the process. I've got three days till we shoot this video, and I'm already doing some testing and experimenting on found footage -- which is later than I wanted to start doing that, really, but there were impediments. Which isn't a big deal; just one of those things. That's why I always build a little extra space into every schedule. I'm a clever sausage.

But it means that over the next few days I'm going to be a mess -- my mind is completely consumed by the thing at hand; I'm spending every waking minute thinking about this project. And that makes me happy, but it also makes me twitchy. I have lists upon lists -- things I still have to do, notes to help me get them done, daily agendas and reminders so nothing slips past me. I spent five hours tonight playing with footage -- I only meant to stop by quickly and look at a few things, but then I had an idea, and once I start it's hard to stop. I had to force myself to leave so I could come home and get some sleep (I'm trying to work myself into a diurnal schedule for the shoot, though I'll be back on vampire's hours once the shoot's over and I'm editing in earnest.) But in order to do it, I had to force myself to leave a technical problem unresolved -- and if there's anything that can absorb my time more completely than editing, it's solving technical problems. (I know Macs are supposed to be the shit and all, and I know FCP is the best tool around for us indie film people, but sometimes it fills me with rage and despair. Is basic video format compatibility really too much to ask for?)

So now I'm home, but all I can think about is getting back to my technical problem so I can try out a few solutions and then eventually get back to my editing. Sleep isn't going to come easily tonight.

PS: Get it? "Reeling"? Like, film reels... okay, never mind.
1:25 AM ::
Amy :: permalink

Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Gone Till September

It may or may not be a little quiet here for the next week or so. I've got other things which require my focus for the next six days at least, so posts, if they appear at all, will probably* be on the brief and snarky side. After that, though, maybe I'll be compelled to go on one of my usual expositions on the editing process.

Those are always fun.

* "Probably" = as soon as I say that, I'll doubtless end up going off on an extended rant about something or other.
12:34 PM ::
Amy :: permalink

Sunday, August 27, 2006
My Machine

Or, how to talk and talk and talk without actually saying anything.

I've been going through one of those periods the last couple of months where I question everything about my existence. Am I in the right place, geographically and metaphorically? Am I doing what I'm supposed to be doing? (That's a tricky one -- I have a tendency to get too caught up in what I'm "supposed" to be doing, and end up ignoring what I really should be doing. Whatever the fuck that is.) I just don't seem to be able to get any traction, and the endless wheel-spinning is exhausting me. I'm feeling a little faint of heart.

It occured to me recently that I have all but given up on being paid to do film work. I mean, ever. I've been re-training myself for non-film-related employment, and I'm not sure if that's smart or just weak. Even my film work preferences are changing -- at one point in my life, all I wanted was to be a camera operator; now I'd be perfectly happy to let someone else do all that hard production work and just sit in my comfortable editing room and cut. I have some inner resistence to the idea of labelling myself an editor, though, because editing is traditionally "women's work" in the film industry (or at least, the editing department is generally not as hostile to women as the camera department) and I would hate to think that there was even a hint that I'd let the bastards drive me away. Which isn't to say that I wouldn't keep shooting for my own work when I wanted to; and it's not to say that I don't still love production, at least sometimes. But lately I've been more interested in the process of combining images, and not as much in creating them.

Or maybe I should just drop film and write instead. I think it's safe to say that I'm a better writer than I am a filmmaker, if only because I've had so much more practice at the former than the latter. I can sit and write all goddamn day, and if I actually wrote second drafts I could probably be a lot better than I am. Writing is a more natural process for me than filmmaking (as if filmmaking could ever be a "natural" process -- Robert Flaherty's wife once said of him that, "he made films just like he defecated -- it was an organic, natural process." And maybe it really was like that for him, if it also required a year's work and thousands of dollars of capital every time he took a dump. "That Bob Flaherty, he practically shits movies!")

My point is, filmmaking is for me as often as not an exhausting, agonizing process that I do only because I can't not do it. I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to make it more natural for me, to make it less of an agony, to work with my innate personality and not against it. Introversion and self-consciousness are not helpful traits for a filmmaker, but I don't see why they should stop me from making films at all. When I was a young girl, I played with the idea of working in film someday , but rejected it because it would require me to work with too many other people. Then I tried it, and discovered that the other people were the thing I loved best about it. Now, though, as much as I admire and adore the people I most often work with, sometimes I think I'd have an easier time of it if I could just go away and do my own thing in solitude.

And then the side of me that's tired of poverty just wants to go get a job with a big salary and to hell with all of it. Except that if I did that, I don't think there would be anything left of me.

I and some other people* are shooting a music video next weekend, which I'm really, really looking forward to -- partly because these are some of my favorite people ever, and partly because I've never done a video before. Music videos are weird -- on some level, it almost feels like cheating to make a video. They don't have to make any narrative sense (hell, they don't even have to make any symbolic sense,) and your rhythms and tone are already taken care of. All the hard work's done for you! You just have to slap some images together and voila, music video. It's easy, so it's where every young would-be filmmaker begins. I, being obstinant when it comes to paying my dues, thus avoided making videos entirely, sticking instead to heavy structure and aesthetic concerns, with mixed results.

But music videos just look like so damn much fun -- I've got no fucking idea how this one's going to turn out, but the process has been a nice blend of premeditated filmmaking and spontaneous cinema. It feels -- and this strikes me as a dangerous admission, but I'm going to dare to speak the truth and please be gentle with me -- but it feels like being back in high school with my friends and a movie camera, except now I actually have some tools and some skills and some experience. It's going to be a bit of a leap of faith, this one, and I'm grateful that anyone is willing to go along with me, but maybe it's exactly what I need. Anyway, it's either going to be the best or the worst thing I've ever done.

Nearly a decade into my film career, I find myself very drawn to pure images, without any hard structure or meaning behind them. Maybe it's because I can't cope with actors and all the trappings of drama (or I'm not talented enough with that side of things, or just can't be bothered), or maybe I've just learned to love images for their own sake. But half of the ideas I've had in the last year have all hinged on found footage and images that already exist in the world. There's a whole school of cinematic thought that says the world already has all the images it needs; that so many pictures have been created that we need never shoot any more raw footage ever again. I don't ascribe to that idea myself, if only because I still see too many interesting new images to be fooled. But I understand the thinking behind it. I half expect I could spend years just making films out of the mountains of cinematic and photographic trash lying around.

Maybe it's just a passing phase.

Speaking of trash, I got a typewriter. I was looking for an old manual portable to use as a prop, but was having no luck. It wasn't crucial that I have one, but it would be nice to have it available if I wanted it, and old typewriters have come up as props several times in the past so I figured it wouldn't be a bad investement. But several days of combing Memphis had left me hopeless of ever finding one -- I found sewing machines and radios and film cameras and projectors, but not a single typewriter. I was just about to give up when I found this one at an antique/junk store here in Mississippi, forgotten under an old coffee table. It was cheap, so I didn't even take a very good look at it before buying it; I just paid the lady and took it home. It's a Royal De Luxe from 1937-8 judging by the serial number, originally owned by a hotel in Memphis according to the tag. (Not quite as pristine as this one, but otherwise identical.) When I took it out for closer inspection I was gratified to discover that it still functions almost perfectly. I spent some time last night and today working on her with paper towels, cotton swabs, chrome polish, and a bottle of Windex, and as of this evening she's gleaming and beautiful. I even found a ribbon that fits her -- kinda cool that she works as well today as she did seventy years ago.

* I will write more about these "other people" one day soon. I'm just waiting for the right moment.
6:22 PM ::
Amy :: permalink

Saturday, August 26, 2006
What Gives?

Oh, I don't know... I just haven't felt much like writing lately. I've been feeling very oriented towards intake the last few weeks, and not much towards output. I've been doing a lot of reading and a lot of abstract-thinking, but nothing that produces much of a drive toward verbal expression. Or maybe it's all the film stuff I've been working on -- I've been thinking in pictures, not in words.

I've got several long posts I've been meaning to write -- a couple of them are pretty much expired by now, but the other two will keep indefinitely. But the thought of writing a long piece just doesn't have much appeal right now. If I did write them, they'd just be sloppy and half-assed; and neither of us wants that, right?

If nothing else, autumn is coming, and I tend to be more of a cool-weather writer.

9:17 PM ::
Amy :: permalink

Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Harmony Lot Hijinx

Oh man... I left Brattleboro six months too soon.

Nude people in town center could prompt ban

BRATTLEBORO, Vt. --Complaints about young people who spend time in downtown naked have prompted the Select Board to explore an anti-nudity ordinance.

Groups of young people have been congregating in a downtown parking lot and enjoying the warm summer weather without clothing, and that bothers some local residents.


"There's no real valid way to justify the banning of nakedness," said one of the men, Adhi Palar, between licks on his clarinet. "Nakedness does not violate any human rights whatsoever."

With no law to enforce, Police Chief John Martin was taking a laid-back approach.

"What's the harm?" Martin asked. "It's a problem to the extent that it bothers people, but we've always had it here."


"... between licks on his clarinet." Is that what the kids are calling it these days?
12:13 AM ::
Amy :: permalink

Sunday, August 20, 2006
Corn Rigs And Barley Rigs

No no no no no... goddammit, NO.

Why can't these motherfuckers find their own movie ideas? Why they gotta go ruining other people's films? The vast body of world literature isn't enough for you uncreative bastards to pillage when you're stuck for an idea (like the rest of us); you have to cannibalize your own?

And Nicholas Cage?! What, was Vin Diesel busy or something? Look, if it hasn't got Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee, and Britt Ekland (singing horny songs about 14-year-olds and slapping the walls with her ass hanging out), and lots of bad 70s-era folk music in it, it ain't the fucking Wicker Man.

The Wicker Man ends with Edward Woodward in a nightgown singing "Onward Christian Soldiers" while turning nice and crispy. Anyone who thinks they can improve on that ending needs to learn some fucking respect for their betters.

See that? That's the One True Wicker Man. Edward Woodward is up there screaming, "Chrrrrrist! Oh God!" while Christopher Lee leads his folksy pagan minions in a nice little singalong.

Could Nicholas Cage ever pull that off?

I think fucking not.

PS: And don't you bastards get any funny ideas about Zardoz.
2:25 PM ::
Amy :: permalink

Friday, August 18, 2006
Friday Persecuted Majority Blogging

One more reason not to live in Arkansas:

Article 19, section 1 of the Arkansas Constitution: Atheists disqualified from holding office or testifying as witness.

No person who denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any court.

Hooray, similar measures exist in South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. I'd suggest some charismatic unbelievers run for office and change the laws, but... well, yeah.

Do any states have laws that say you can't run for office or testify as a witness if you live your life according to the wishes of an invisible man who lives in the sky? No? Funny, that.
12:42 PM ::
Amy :: permalink

Thursday, August 17, 2006
Thursday Self-Experimentation Blogging

So, you've heard about this guy who's designed a youth-deterrant based on the idea that teenagers can hear things that adults can't, right? It produces a high-frequency pulse of sound that will, in theory, irritate teenagers into going away. He figures 15,000 Hz is the right spot.

Having heard a couple of samples of the device, though, I have to disagree strongly -- because I can hear that shit clear as a bell, and I'm a loud-music-listening 30-year-old.

There are some other samples here, mostly provided for curiosity's sake, of frequencies up to 25,000 Hz, which is theoretically well outside the human hearing range. Judging from these samples (which may or may not be a good idea) my hearing threshhold is about 17,000 Hz. That's the point at which I can consciously hear the tone being played. But here's the strange thing, and I want other people's thoughts on this: while I can't "hear" anything above that, on up to about 22,000 Hz, I do feel a peculiar, mildly-unpleasant tension -- sort of a magnetic feeling right behind my eyes. If that's "hearing" then it's hearing in the same way that rubbing your eyes for prolonged periods produces "seeing." Is it real, or is it just my imagination?

Now I want another set of samples of low frequencies.
3:35 PM ::
Amy :: permalink


Okay, how about a little experiment, huh? A little hypothetical question? Okay. Imagine you and your friends are going to attend some fantastic movie marathon, but the programs are pre-arranged. You've got two programs to pick from:

Program A:

1. The American President
2. The Princess Bride
3. Meet the Fockers
4. The War of the Roses
5. Wall Street
6. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
7. Romancing the Stone
8. Tell Them Who You Are
9. The Jewel of the Nile
10. The Game

Program B:

1. It's A Wonderful Life
2. Dave
3. Dodgeball
4. Tango and Cash
5. The Greatest Story Ever Told
6. A Smile Like Yours
7. Casper
8. Casper: A Spirited Begining
9. Dennis the Menace
10. Easy Wheels

I know, they seem pretty random, but that's your choice. So which do you pick? A or B?

If you picked A... well, you must be a dirty, stinking liberal who likes to kiss Osama with tongues.


I contend that this is further evidence that liberals are just smarter, more creative motherfuckers. We get the best bands, we get the best writers, we get the best comedians, and now we get the best -- or at least, on average, much better -- movies.

Suck it, Republicans.

But here's what I don't get: why It's a Wonderful Life -- a movie that demonizes a free-market, profit-driven banker and lionizes a self-sacrificing guy who just wants to make life better for immigrants and poor folks (hell, George Bailey is damn near a socialist) is the #1 conservative movie, and the fucking Bible, with Charleton Heston, John Wayne, and Pat Boone, is only #5? That doesn't make any sense at all.

PS: The Top 100 Conservative Movies list is here, and trust me, it doesn't get any better.

PPS: Seriously, though, I've never seen such a bizarrely arbitrary "ratings" system in my life. Look around the website and you'll see what I mean.
1:30 PM ::
Amy :: permalink

Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Load Of Scat In A Stetson Hat

Here's a mildly-obscene anti-Bush song to brighten up your morning.

Eric Schwartz: Clinton Got a Blowjob

Not safe for work, but good for your soul.
12:14 AM ::
Amy :: permalink

Monday, August 14, 2006
The Perfect System

I've spent most of the afternoon trying to set up a personal status page -- y'know, just a page where I can keep all my crap online: links and contacts and small files and To Do lists and things like that. It's a pain in the ass. There are a thousand web apps out there that do one thing well, but good fucking luck pulling it all together. Tags aren't the answer; RSS isn't the answer; definitely isn't the answer. Backpack is closer, but it's still not quite there. Someday, I have no doubt, Google will know everything about every tiny facet of my life -- what I read online, what I have to do this week, where my sexual tastes lie, and who I'm indulging them with -- and will produce any answer I need from that one omnipotent search box. But even they, mighty as they are, haven't yet gotten that far. (I'm still refusing to use their calendar -- I don't want any major corporation knowing everything about me.) My email inbox is clean; all my messages get filed carefully away on a near-daily basis. My bookmarks are filed as I make them, with descriptive names, and I keep them clear of duplicates and dead links. Some aspects of my life are a chronic mess, but my digital life is square, bitch.

The problem is, it always feels like something is missing, some crucial link that will bring everything together. This is probably partly because I'm laptopless -- if I want data when I'm away from my computer, I have to email it or write it down on paper or post it somewhere else. Every element has to be recorded multiple times -- most of my phone numbers, for example, are recorded once in my address book, once in my phone, and once in my email client's address book, and the ones I use most often are also listed again in a file I can access online. I'm not sure if recording everything four times means I'm really organized or really disorganized. But I know from frustrating experience that no program yet devised actually does exactly what it says on the wrapper. I use RSS feeds every day, and I often feel like I should be using them more, but feeds never work as well as they're supposed to. Having fifty feeds that send me something useful once every three months is just one more goddamn thing I have to keep up with.

There are some things that I still can't bring myself to do on a computer; there are some tasks for which a tool will only get in the way. I can't think and makes notes on a computer -- I still need a good pen and a notebook for that. (Though even that is better done with the right tools -- I fetishistically use Moleskine Cahiers notebooks, which are big enough for making thought clusters, and with enough pages for a big project, but not so many that I feel overly-committed. And they have to be in "buff" -- I need to be able to write on the cover if I want to.) I have an elaborate system of notebooks -- I always carry one for random notetaking, one each for any relevant projects, and a black address book. And I use a hipster PDA for anything that doesn't merit a page in the notebooks. Writing stuff down is still my favored means of collecting information -- I've long since gotten over looking for digital solutions to tasks that are best completed with ink on paper -- but if it's on paper, I can't index it or search it or zap it off to somebody else. When did my life begin to exist on two incompatible planes?

PS: And while we're discussing my search for the perfect system, can anybody give me some helpful tips on finding the perfect bag?
8:27 PM ::
Amy :: permalink

Birthday Twins

Happy birthday to Rebecca and Ismail, wherever you are. I still miss you both.
8:36 AM ::
Amy :: permalink

Thursday, August 10, 2006

While I was lamenting my dissatisfaction with my current place of residence and wondering where else I might go, Greensmile challenged me to make some lists:

things you want to get away from [negative weightings]

Things that make life fun for Amy[positive weightings]

candidate locales

That seemed like a reasonable place to start, so here's what I've come up with:

Things I'd Just As Soon Avoid In A New City

- a population of more than, say, 3 million
- a population of less than, say, 100,000
- average high temperatures in summer above 95F
- an economy based heavily on defense or the military
- an active real estate bubble
- underfunded schools
- a political monopoly held by either party

Things I'd Really Like In A New City

- an established and efficient public transportation system
- a diverse international community, particularly in the form of ethnic enclaves
- at least one fairly large undergraduate college or university
- an active arts community
- at least one really good cinema, one good video store, and one good bookstore
- pedestrianized areas and bike trails
- a big GLBT community
- a good library system
- a stable, prosperous downtown
- ready access to mountains and/or the ocean OR
- ready access to a world-class city
(I wouldn't ask for both at once -- that's just greedy)

A few of these things run deeper than they might appear -- for example, "underfunded schools" doesn't have only to do with the quality of the schools themselves. Poor schools lead to an undereducated local workforce, which in turn ultimately leads to an unskilled labor-based economy, periods of high unemployment and economic depression, a demoralized underclass, and a lot of poverty. Those things will, of course, be present to some extent anywhere, but in some places (like Memphis) they can become a dominant force in a city. If there's one thing I want to leave behind, it's that.

The problem is that any city that manages to deal effectively with these problems will immediately become a strong attractor for new residents, leading to other problems, like an unrealistically high cost of living and a housing crunch. There's an inherent catch-22 built into my lists. So I don't know -- this place probably doesn't exist in reality. The ideal thing would be to find a city that's only in the early stages of the process, a city that's becoming this kind of place but isn't a long-established hipster haven. (I'm not counting on it.)

Having said that, here are the places I've considered so far (limiting myself to North America, since emigration overseas is a dearly-held ambition but not a realistic option):

- Boston
- Montreal
- Austin
- Chapel Hill
- the Pacific Northwest in general

Obvious but definite exclusions (as in, I wouldn't seriously consider any of these at this point):

- New York
- Los Angeles
- Chicago
- San Francisco

What do you think? If you were custom-building a city for yourself, what factors would you add to these lists? Is there any such place in the world? Have you spent much time in any of these cities? Do you know of another place that fits these guidelines that I haven't mentioned?
3:32 PM ::
Amy :: permalink

How These Things Should Be Done

1) Intelligence agencies track and disrupt a threat through solid police work, not by restricting civil rights and civil liberties.

2) The people remain calm and deal with the side effects as patiently as possible.

3) Everyone gets on with their lives, without undue fear or hysteria.

That's how an old pro deals with terrorism.

PS: Heh.

12:56 PM ::
Amy :: permalink

Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Love Note

Dear Senator Lieberman,

Please fuck off now, you big baby.

Sister Novena
(a radical-left partisan hippie blogger)

PS: And that goes for the rest of the Bush-friendly Democrats, too.
4:51 PM ::
Amy :: permalink

Free Association At 2 AM

I have a new friend; his name is Charles. He says stuff like this:

We were at the door. I knocked.
It opened to this tall slim delicate type, you smelled artistry all over him. You could see he had been born to Create, to Create grand things, totally unhindered, never bothered by such petty things as toothache, self-doubt, lousy luck. He was one of those who looked a genius. I looked like a dishwasher so these types always pissed me just a bit.

Okay, yes, it's Bukowski. But he's the kind of friend I need more of: people who write interesting things and look like dishwashers. I'm tired of Memphis-fabulous, because I just can't reach to it. I'm shy, I'm inhibited, I'm wracked with self-doubt, I don't do well at parties, and I'm prone to bouts of despair. And the thing I need to be reminded of above all else is that I can be all those things and still do good work. There are times when I really need to be reminded of that.

The book I'm reading is Hollywood, and it's my first visit with Charles. He drops names left and right with only a tissue-thin disguise (Wenner Zergog? Jon-Luc Modard? Frances Ford Lopalla? Who could these people be?) The bit about "Tab Jones" is a thing to fucking behold: "Here is Tab Jones. He sings. His shirt is open and the black hairs on his chest show. The hairs are sweating. He wears a big silver cross in these sweating hairs. His mouth is a horrible hole cut into a pancake. He's got on tight pants and he's wearing a dildo. He grabs his balls and sings about all the good things he can do for women." Yeah, that sounds familiar.

Anyway, last night I was reading a bit about a film screening, in which our hero views a documentary about "Lido Mamin," a charismatic African dictator. Since everything else in this book seems to be based on fact (even if I can't decode all the names yet), I wondered if this film actually existed. And then tonight, at a local video store, while looking for something else entirely, I saw this film about Idi Amin.

I didn't rent it, because I can't afford it. But it's sort of satisfying, in a way, to see it and confirm that it's real.

And earlier this afternoon, an odd thing happened. I was in my car listening to the radio -- y'see, a couple of weeks ago the FM transmitter that allows me to listen to my portable CD player in my car broke. And what with all the expensive iPod-pitched transmitters out on the market, the little cheap model I've been using for years has been discontinued and replaced with a $45 model, which I can't afford, so I can't listen to my own music anymore. So now I'm stuck with the radio, which means shitty commercial stations (I would sooner jam nails into my ears), our local volunteer station which is excellent sometimes and other times populated entirely by hayseed banjo music, or NPR. On this particular occasion I'd opted for NPR.

It was the usual high-minded blah-blah-blah. Whatever I was listening to ended, and they rolled off an NPR news break, except someone fucked up and accidentally played two different news clips simultaneously. It was the same female voice speaking on both, and about approximately the same thing, but two different scripts. Since they were at the same volume and in the same voice, it was impossible to make sense of either one -- all I could catch was words and fragments. And then, against any rational odds I can think of, both voices said the word "Lebanon" at exactly the same moment, so that they became one single voice for the second it took to say it. And then they diverged again and went on prattling independently of each other until somebody stopped one of the tapes.

I thought that was pretty cool. I wonder if anyone else caught it.
1:47 AM ::
Amy :: permalink

Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Places I Would Rather Be

I'm doing a little light housecleaning around the blog -- I checked all the links in the blogroll last night, and yep, they all still work. I had to adjust a couple of them, but I was pleased to discover no new dead links. I also added Feministe and Feministing, two blogs I've been neglecting but which are both very good and not that similar in spite of the names. Tonight or tomorrow I'll be hitting the links menu on the left. If anybody has anything to recommend, let me know.

Anyway, most of my friends know that it doesn't take a great deal of encouragement to get me to yabber endlessly about the virtues of living abroad. Here's somebody else's version of the same experience: Hating America. (Please note: he doesn't hate America.) On a lot of things, I agree with him completely; on a few things, I don't. For instance, I don't ever remember hating America. I remember feeling very alienated from it for a while -- that's what reverse culture-shock is all about. Especially after three years living in a different culture (living in London is not as different as living in Guatemala, but more different than you'd ever expect without doing it) the experience of coming back to a place that you know intimately, and finding it unfamiliar and often bizarre is stressful. That may also, admittedly, be partly down to the fact that I left America during the Clinton years and finally returned after the WTC attacks. The America I came home to was not the same as the one I'd left.

I think there's a difference in intent between those who travel because they "hate America" and people like me. Now, yeah, I talk that way sometimes: fuck this country, I'm moving to Australia/Spain/Quebec/Budapest. But that's really just the intersection between two of my regular frustrations -- my frustration with my native culture's many shortcomings on the one hand, and my frustration with my blocked wanderlust on the other. I want to go live in Australia/Spain/Quebec/Budapest because I really, really want to and have always wanted to; the Bush administration is incidental. Mostly, I just fucking loved being an expat. I'm a born foreigner.

This month, given my druthers, I'd be in Scotland for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Someday, by god.
12:42 PM ::
Amy :: permalink

Sunday, August 06, 2006
My First Carnival

So, I submitted my post "Gott Mit Uns" to Carnival of the Godless for Carnival #46 as per Greensmile's suggestion, and I got in. Yay on me! Thanks to durruti at Love @nd Rage. There's plenty of other agnostilicious stuff there, so have a look around if you've got a spare minute and are so inclined. (I couldn't put it any more low-key than that.)
7:17 PM ::
Amy :: permalink

Sunday Morning Angst

This is making the rounds, but what the hell... it suits my mood.

I'm not sure what it is about Garfield that makes it so ripe for deconstruction. Surely the Peanuts played more on existential themes. Anyway, I loved Garfield when I was about seven, but lost interest shortly after I discovered Bloom County. But there's something about Garfield's very mediocrity that leaves a particularly bitter tang on the palate when re-rendered as a tale of insanity and pain.

But damn... no amount of re-mixing can top Jim Davis in a black fucking mood.

Mmmmm... lasagna with a side of bitter almond.

(Both links are totally SFW, but you may want to mute your speakers.)
2:06 AM ::
Amy :: permalink

Saturday, August 05, 2006
Bookish Girl

Greensmile tagged me. Of course, I have no intention of strictly following the rules.

1) One book that changed your life?

It's strange, you know, that for someone who values books above almost any other posessions, I can't recall being really profoundly affected by any of them. Moderately affected sometimes, sure, and at least influenced by lots of them. But never have I read a book and afterwards thought, "I will never be the same again."

That doesn't mean it didn't happen, I guess, just that I was never consciously aware of it happening. I also don't find it very tempting to invest emotionally in books -- I'm a very intellectual reader, so mostly I read nonfiction and essays, that sort of thing. Nonfiction can change your mind, but can it change your life?

That said, this book opened up one or two new worlds for me at a crucial stage in my personal development.

2) One book you have read more than once?

There are a few that I've read repeatedly -- though usually it has more to do with the fact that I can't procure any new ones and most of my others are in storage. Having said that:

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski -- it's gimmicky and full of itself, but the first third particularly is the creepiest thing I've ever read. It's the literary equivalent of uneasy dreams.

I read Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek every couple of years. I really dig that one.

And two unrelated volumes that I usually read in sequence as a sort of meditation on the value of ugly girls: Wicked by Gregory Maguire and Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. I think Geek Love is actually the better of the two, but it's also a lot messier and less focused.

3) One book you would want on a desert island?

I hate the whole idea of desert island books. I suppose if I had to pick one, it would be Ulysses, but only because it would be the most likely to hold my attention over endless re-readings.

4) One book that made you laugh?

The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera helped me understand both twelve-tone music and communism better. But I don't remember laughing (maybe I forgot.)

5) One book that made you cry?

This one and this one. He always dies at the end, and it's just too goddamn sad; I can't take it.

6) One book you wish had been written?

I... don't know how to answer that question.

7) One book you wish had never had been written?

After my car accident, while I was still bed-ridden, my boyfriend at the time brought me some of his favorite books to read. One was a collected series of short books written in the form of correspondence between two people, which was apparently his very most favorite story ever. I read the first three volumes in an opiate haze and the next day angrily sent them back, telling him that I hated them more than any book I'd ever read, that the entire story seemed cruel and intended to lead its readers to despair, and that they were the only books I'd ever actually wanted to see burned. I really meant it, too -- I was deeply offended by them. He was a bit rattled by that.

Of course, I was drugged and in a very strange headspace at the time, and to be honest I'm not even sure what the story was about. I certainly don't remember the title. I just remember fucking hating those books.

8) One book you are currently reading?

I'm still plugging away at How the Mind Works by Steven Pinker -- it alternates between dense science and really stinky-bad geek-boy humor. Combined with a lot of 1996-era tech talk, it's by turns intellectually demanding and hopelessly lame (in an endearing kind of way.)

9) One book you have been meaning to read?

If it's not in my bag or on my bedside table, it's off my radar.

10) Now tag five people -

I think I'll not. I bet Aunt Vicky could wail on this one, though.
12:32 PM ::
Amy :: permalink

Friday, August 04, 2006
Friday Grotesque Blogging, Part 2

Ugh -- I've been having bad dreams lately. Last night was the third in a row.

I dreamed that I was here, at home, fairly late at night, and decided that I needed to go get something. So I got in my car and headed off down the driveway. Just as I pulled out onto the road, I caught a glimpse of a woman walking along the shoulder further up, but sort of lurching and staggering. As I got near the intersection, I saw two men carrying knapsacks and shotguns walking just on the edge of the woods near the road; they stopped and stared at me.

As I got to the intersection, it occurred to me that I didn't actually need to go get anything at all, or nothing that couldn't wait until the next day, so I decided to turn around and go back home. But as I drove through the intersection, I saw an enormous amount of light and a column of smoke at another intersection up the road -- space was somewhat distorted in this dream, but I knew it was the intersection where I'd had my car accident a few years ago, and I figured there must have been another, much, much worse wreck. I could see the silhouettes of people standing around whatever it was that was so brightly lit, and then I realized that there was stuff falling from the sky. It looked like big, feathery clumps of snow, but since it was summer that was impossible. It was, in fact, ash.

And that's when I realized that something very bad had happened. I found myself driving past the local fire station, and behind the building on an empty lot there were hundreds of people gathered. A lot of them looked hurt, and the rest looked afraid. It looked like a refugee camp, though I knew they were all locals. I started looking for a place to turn around, but got lost inside the neighborhood behind the station. And the last thing I remember is hearing on the radio that something was passing directly overhead, and that it was the source of whatever was happening, but I could never quite catch what it was. But the implication was that it was causing enormous destruction everywhere, and there wasn't anything we could do to save ourselves.

So basically it was an apocalyptic dream. I'm still feeling a little unnerved.

Anyway, I've only got one link today, but I think it's a damn good one. I've wasted a respectable amount of time on these pages.

Here's an amazing selection of pictures of people at fairs and carnivals. Not pictures of carnies and freaks, mind you, but pictures of fairgoers. Admittedly sometimes it's hard to tell the difference. The easiest response is to laugh -- and a lot of these people are laughable. But many of them are also rather beautiful in their own flawed ways. There's something very humane about these photographs. This is some great stuff.

Ain't that America, indeed. These are some of the most inspiring images I've seen in years.

(Clicking on the pictures on the main page will take you to further galleries, so don't stop too soon.)

PS: Oh, all right, just one more link, but only because it's so unfeasibly fun: Pipecleaner Dance III
12:16 PM ::
Amy :: permalink

Wednesday, August 02, 2006
They Will Know We Are Xtians By Our Love

Only unintentionally related to previous posts, but still damn funny. Bobby Henderson, the original proponent of Flying Spaghetti Monster creationism, blogs all of his hate-mail from hate-filled fanatics loving Christians, and thus we get to read this minor epic concerning one Casey Powell, amateur holy warrior.

First the bile...

I do believe you are a fucking retard and I hope you burn in hell. Fuck you and the flying spaghetti monster. Postmodernism is a self defeating concept. Read Josh McDowell's book for a good overview of what life is truly about you dumbass humanist. You obviously think life is just a big damn joke. Its all for humor and entertainment. I look forward to the day it fucks you right in the ass.

... then the legal threats...

You have 2 options. One you take my name off of your site, you take the messages off of your site that were posted by you and you take my e-mail off of your site. In the event that you don't, I sue you for $400,000 for libel and invasion of privacy (and I'm not kidding about that either). You have 24 hours to decide which alternative you would rather go through.

...then the disavowal...

I'm trying to tell you that I, Casey Powell, did not write the message. Somehow, it was posted by someone who broke into my yahoo account which is the reason I am not using the yahoo account to contact you now. I can't even get into the other yahoo account Bobby. I am terminating the account due to privacy issues. So while it was from my yahoo account, I personally did not write it, which is why I'm trying to ask you to remove my name from it.

... and then the punchline, which you can read for yourselves. Suffice to say that not only does Mr. Powell not understand how evolution works, he also doesn't understand how IP addresses work.

PS: What this country really needs is to have the Eight "I'd Really Rather You Didn'ts" posted in every church vestibule in the nation.
4:40 PM ::
Amy :: permalink