This sticker is dangerous and inconvenient but I do love Fig Newtons

Friday, February 29, 2008

Youtube does the blogging so I don't have to

Nevermind the little commercial at the end; I'm not trying to sell anything even though Extras is a great show and would be a worthy purchase, but I'm using this clip because it's just the scene I wanted, short and awesome and good quality. Do not cross Dame Diana Rigg; she will drink your milkshake.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Friday, February 15, 2008

Yesterday was a triumph. I got my two-year-old niece to watch The Wizard of Oz. She didn't sit the whole time, since she is, after all, my TWO-year-old niece, but she sat for most of it and would occasionally give an "oh no" when the music turned foreboding (she "oh no"-ed, in fact, when the witch melted, and I had to remind her, "No hon, that's good that she's dead. We hate her, that wicked ol' witch" and then I proceeded to do my awesome melting-Wicked-Witch-of-the-West impression: "Oh, what a world, what a world! Who ever thought a little girl like you could destroy my beautiful wickedness?" Which my niece proceeded to completely ignore). She was also fascinated by the Scarecrow and the Lion and mentioned them constantly throughout the day, but all she had to say for the Tin Man was, "He can't talk," which isn't a bad observation for a toddler (which she made pre-oil can, of course), but considering the Tin Man's my favorite, I was hoping for a little more, like maybe a mention of the awesome rusted-legs-side-to-side-swaying thing he does in his dance. Love that.

She called the bubble that Glinda travels in "The Moon," and that cracked my shit up, and she was very concerned when the twister was coming and Dorothy hadn't gotten in the basement yet. I cherished every minute of it because it was my first attempt to expose her to the "old movies," those gems of the 30s and 40s and 50s for which I have an undying love. I'm taking Ty Burr's advice and trying to get her while she's young. But I can't help shake the feeling that I'm acting like the annoying Boomers who have continually forced the pop culture of their youth onto a younger generation with a solemnity that should probably be reserved for family traditions and religion. The Sixties changed the world, dontcha you know, what with the hippies exposing the hypocrisy and soul-deadening ways of middle America and rock music ending the war and destroying Nixon and everything. We must all stand in awe at the glories of Woodstock and The Graduate and Abby Hoffman. Blech.

But am I guilty of partaking in that same silly reverence for the pop culture of the past with my pass-on-the-old-movies obsession? I guess I can take comfort in the fact that the things from the past that I love -- basically, the pop culture of my grandparents' generation -- is infinitely cooler and more interesting than the Boomers' tired, played-out culture of the 60s, and I'm not being as narcissistic as the Boomers since the 30s and 40s weren't my childhood eras, so at least I'm not pushing them on people as a way to relive and validate my own glorious youth.

I can't wait till she's old enough to appreciate Cary Grant and Alfred Hitchcock. Right now I think my next move is Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp, or an MGM musical from the late 40s.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Time for more shitty writing!

I was cleaning my room today and found two poems I wrote as examples for my Creative Writing students this past Fall. We were studying metaphysical poetry, and my cooperating teacher believed that we the teachers should give the students as many examples of our own work as possible as a way to show that yes, these things we teach you are relevant 'cause we use them in our own writing too. The first poem is incomprehensible, but I kinda like the way it sounds. The second is my attempt at a copy-change of sorts using Donne's "Batter my heart, three-person'd God."

In my continuing efforts to try and post something nearly everyday, no badly written piece of tripe goes unblogged!


Unless like small and dreaming children we become,
And fashion paper angels in a fit of mirth,
And hope for second birth,
And string these forms from door to porch,
Knocking, laughing, playing
Paper games that seem like life silhouetted
(And yet in these outlinings the clearer form is seen),
We risk a fall into self-sufficiency and singleness,
And trade our happy curfew for an unending fete,
Becoming creatures, no longer flesh, whose
Only self is reflected in the pixeled images,
Cartoon icons on a screen. The true Icon brings us closer
To that welcomed imprisonment, in old closets
With other lost and battered toys, and we see
The face of One discarded, another childhood indulgence
We rediscover, reloved.

(a copy-change of Donne's "Batter my heart, three-person'd God")
Shock my soul, Spirit of Hope; right now
You only whistle, spittle, flick and tickle;
So I can float, and laugh, electrocute me, and send
A shockwave, to jolt, choke, stand-hair-on-end and revive me, anew.
I, like a can of celluloid, cut and discarded,
Long for your hand on the flatbed,
To resplice me, but the film falls apart;
Unspool your white leader for me, label me;
I am misnumbered, scratched, and out-of-sync.
Now I long for you truly, and want you in me again,
But am stuck doing Jaeger with Despair:
Throw me into the bathroom, hold me
Over the sink, so I, my face on cold tile,
Can know Heaven on the gum-drenched floor,
Say a prayer, and smile.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Never mind the Bill of Rights -- There's too much clutter!

I was in Ann Arbor the other day and I grabbed an issue of The Michigan Review, the student journal of conservative and libertarian thought (and my favorite choice for bus ride reading material when I was at school there). Apparently, there's a bit of a free speech controversy going on at the University of Michigan and student publications on campus are (rightly) up in arms.

According to the LSA college (the college of literature, science and arts) there's too much "clutter" in the buildings on campus from all of the publications that are distributed there. Basically, students pick up free issues of The Daily, or the Review, or whatever, that are in bins and stacks around the hallways of the buildings, read them while waiting for lecture to start, and then throw them away, or else just leave them on a desk or on the floor. It can be pretty gross when there's a bunch of old Dailies strewn about the floor of your classroom, but honestly, it was never that much, and I usually would pick one up to read, since it would be left there so conveniently, and then throw it away later, so there's at least one piece of litter out of the way. But I guess for the precious Felix Unger's of the college of LSA, the sight of some papers on the floor is too much to bear.

Old newspapers on the floor isn't the only "clutter" the college is concerned about, though. They also contend that there are too many bins and stacks of papers in the hallways and that these are disrupting the flow of the hallways and cluttering things up and I guess they're a safety hazard or something. Seeing as I was just on campus, walking around the hallways of Angell Hall, this is patently ridiculous. It's true, I graduated more years ago than I would care to admit (*cough*2003*cough*), but it was as "bad" then as it supposedly is now, and that's: Not very. Seriously, it's nothing. It's stacks of newspapers and leaflets along the walls. Plenty of room in between. Maybe there are other more immaculate, more spacious college hallways elsewhere in the country, but as far as I'm concerned, the LSA buildings look like a normal school.

Anyway, as I understand it, the college wants to start restricting publications from distributing on campus, basically making the determine of which publications make the cut and which don't, as well as putting restrictions on when and where the approved publications can put out their issues. I think it's pretty clear that once a college or university starts making determinations over which student publications can and cannot be distributed on campus, it's a serious threat to the future of free speech at that school. It's assumed that The Daily, the main student-run paper of the school (i.e.: the liberal rag) will make the cut, but even they will be limited as to where they can put their paper, and when they can put issues out (I guess there's something in the proposal that would prohibit publications from being displayed between April 14 and September 15, which would mean that the Daily can forget their summer issue). Other publications, especially smaller, less established ones, would no doubt be left out in the cold once the LSA and MSA (Michigan Student Assembly) and whoever else gets to decide make the decision over who can distribute and who's just annoying, useless "clutter." Paranoid right-winger that I am, I have a sneaking suspicion that a paper like the Review might just be one for the "clutter" bin. And even if they're not, it's still a stupid, useless move by the college that will limit the speech rights of the students.

It's all ridiculous and phoney baloney. But that's my alma mater! I think our motto is Artes, Scientia, Ineptia. Take a look at the Review's coverage for more.

Happy Lent!

Forty days and forty nights
Thou wast fasting in the wild;
Forty days and forty nights
Tempted, and yet undefiled.

Shall not we thy sorrow share
And from earthly joys abstain,
Fasting with unceasing prayer,
Glad with thee to suffer pain?

And, if Satan, vexing sore,
Flesh or spirit should assail,
Thou, his Vanquisher before,
Grant we may not faint nor fail!

Keep, O keep us, Savior dear,
Ever constant by thy side;
That with thee we may appear
At the eternal Eastertide.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Thoughts on Blues in Technicolor

I can't decide if Janis Joplin's singing is pathetic and clownish or if we still haven't yet appreciated the heights of her unique virtuosity.

I think her real problem was lack of great material. Robert Plant might have been unbearably annoying if he didn't have the benefit of the genius of Jimmy Page, and if the sound of Led Zeppelin hadn't been such a perfect-fit playground for Plant's Witch-King-of-Angmar meets Welsh triple harp voice.

Joplin had, perhaps, "Me and Bobby McGee" and "Ball and Chain" (maybe "Turtle Blues"), but that's it. Imagine her in the 1920s and 30s when the blues were rawer and wilder. Why she didn't cut more traditional, old-timey blues records instead of the weak sap, early '70s idea of "blues" she did record can probably be chalked up to everybody doing too many drugs back then.

It's so easy to blame hippies.

February Made Me Shiver. . .

I'm driving in my car today, and I put the ipod on shuffle. A few songs go by: The Beatles' "I'm So Tired," Jim Croce's "I've Got a Name," Julie Andrews doing the "Do Re Mi" song. And then suddenly, Don McLean's sweet voice comes on with "American Pie." I freaked out a little. Why? Today's the anniversary of the day the music died. I've got more than 5,000 songs on the old 'pod, and it picks "American Pie." That's pretty weird, right?