Thursday, February 28, 2008

If I may

recommend Skoticus's blog. Check out the link on my sidebar. Ciao.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Most Adorable Thing I've Seen All Day

I use this hyperbole a lot so thought I'd take a minute to start keeping track of the things I attach it to. Today: Becca Jensen's response to my report of a good first date, "holla." She should be made into a teddy bear that says holla when you squeeze its patchouli oil-scented belly.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Cormac McCarthy may be a Genius: Exhibit B

Today when I was (not) running I saw a broken-off bottle neck and thought (I thought, tiny, passivist, former-hippy me) "with a jab and a twist, that would be the perfect tool for gouging someone's eye out."
Kind of ambivalent about this, but I read Phil Snyder's article on cowboy codes (via Derrida and Levinas) this afternoon and am falling deeply in love with this literature. There is something monumental about it, something black-and-white and sure and massively appealing.
I read a Sarah Vowell essay once (many of you have heard this story) that said that there comes a point in every liberal arts students' life when nothing seems sure anymore and you have to find an external ethic to rely on. Hers was based on the Godfather movies, and the essay ends with her in Italy going every day to buy a ferry ticket to the port city on Sicily and every day being unwilling to be associated in the ticket-lady's mind with the mindless throng of casual tourist-fans.
There was a moment when I found my monument in Ayn Rand and Hemingway. And there's something equally appealing about the sweeping codes of the Border Trilogy. Something solid to cling to amid the uncertainty of everything right now.
Speaking of which: my hair has joined the rest of my life in the awkward transitional stage--I'm pigtailed and bobby-pinned and poking out every which way and it may kill me before the day is through...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Between the Wish and the Thing

Reality and I have an on-again-off-again thing going. We generally respect each other: I don't try and play with the big laws: gravity and murder and such; and reality gives way for the giant miracles that I constantly find myself in need of. But lately, lately things have not been going so smoothly.
I, for instance, really need like six extra hours everyday. Between teaching, grading, and preparing lesson plans, going to classes, doing homework, training, not to mention like eating and dressing and keeping my room clean; really not to mention things like planning for my future--be it next week's midterms or what I'm doing with myself next year, I find my poor Franklin-Covey planner s-t-r-a-i-n-i-n-g at the seams. And sleeping? And templing and studying? Reality is not giving up a minute.
And then there are these rumbles that reality has been beating me at every time: if I buy that pair of new jeans, even though I really need them, the money really is going to disappear from my account. Or if I'm on a run and have a meeting to make, I won't be able, miraculously, to sprint that last half mile so I can get a shower in. Or if I'm distant and hostile to everyone save good friends I'm not going to find myself the life of the party.
I guess the point is this: a bad month. I think reality is upset that I'm trying to ignore its existence and is putting me in my place. And its elbows are sooo sharp.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Viva la/Nothing new under the sun

Have you heard the news? Castro resigned. I'm not quite so optimistic as to already be planning my humanitarian/beach trip to Cuba--no sunscreen and beach towel in hand. I suspect actually that things will get worse for US-Cuba relations before they get better. But maybe things can get better? As far as Cuba rebuilding itself? (China feels to me right now like a swollen chrysalis, and I wonder if they'll both keep stick to their communist regimes and how that will play out.)
I was talking to some friends about US involvement in the hemisphere/world last night and came back to some troubling and inconclusive conclusions. Like: who the hell do we think we are? The US seems to have its fingers in a lot of pots, and has for more than a century. We've tampered with the governments of most of Central and South America, we're neck-deep in this war in the Middle East (which I know has good reason ostensibly, but we can't pretend we're not in it for the oil, that the democracy rhetoric that we try and throw around is empty justification), we've played with Asia and Eastern Europe and Western.
And it's not to say we're not doing good things too. It's just this meddling problem--we try and help, but eventually have to back out, and a lot of people are left trying to implement programs we've designed (which is always difficult/impossible) and cleaning up our mess. I heard a story on NPR about Cambodia (I think...). The US staged an experiment there: they provided clothing manufacturers with prime contracts and lowered tariffs in exchange for really high standards for workers. In the beginning, it worked great: everyone was content with the products and the workers were some of the most well treated in the world. But then the US preferential treatment expired and the economy took a nose-dive. An experiment? Who do we think we are?
To be a world power, must you interfere with the workings of other nations? Is that part of the package?
Anyway. I'm excited to see how the Fidel-void is filled. And hopefully things will work out the best for the Cubans.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I love

Historians. Because they're soo snarky. A quote: "In spite of Cicero's view that historians should adhere to the truth, it doesn't seem to have occurred to him, or to anyone else in the ancient world, that a fabricator of history might not deserve to be called its father." Who gets to say things like that? And you can make fun of Cicero and Herodotus all you want because they're dead and so won't rip you apart in their next publication. I love it.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Decline of Western Civilization

It started with weathered-looking guys holding signs by the side of the road. "Going out of Business Sale! One Day Only!" And the signs were fluorescent and tacked to dowels, and the guys looked like they had had better days. Maybe it was a good idea--a little pocket money, you know, to tide you over, even though the weather was bad and being so close to such a busy road all afternoon has to take it out of a guy.
Then Little Caesars joined the craze: pizza kids (or not) with big orange signs dancing by the side of the road. The lucky ones had earphones and could pretend, maybe, that they weren't dancing like fools for rush hour traffic. The less lucky ones glared at passing cars or pretended they weren't there at all, half-heartedly jiggling the neon orange octagon.
But this, have you noticed the next step in all of this? Driving to and from work I have seen: Chewbacca, a storm trooper, and several statues of liberty out on the sidewalk dancing toward or around stripmall storefronts. Who does this motivate to come into the store? Who sees a middle-aged man in a green toga and crown and thinks "I must have my taxes done by that man there; here, take my social security number please..."?
Kudos to the guys who do it, but really?

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

On All the Pretty Horses, the trailer

Is "All the Pretty Horses" worth seeing? I probably won't--it was intense enough a read for me, and also, doesn't it seem like Matt Damon and Penelope Cruz are too old? I think one of the reasons John Grady could get away with so much and also why the story was so great was because he was 17. It was a coming-of-age. But Matt Damon is adorable and if he were 17 it would be perfect.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Big Cities are a Genius

A) street gyro in the rain. Greasy and yogurt-saucy and oniony delicious. B) tamale and arroz con leche served in a paper coffee cup hot-hot. Eaten on the way home from the subway. Pretty much the tastiest thing I've ever spent a dollar on. C) Sylvia's: chicken and ribs, collared greens, black-eyed peas, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, tomato and okra gumbo, candied yams. D) Dunkin' Donuts' wheat (hardy and cinnamon-laced). E) the neighborhood grocer with mango juice just waiting. F) Upscale grocery stores though they would break me fast with every ethnicity of food and artfully prepared sometimes that you could dream of. And fresh-baked things. Gorgeous.