Friday, October 9, 2009

nothing of interest, I'm afraid

I was going to write a blog post yesterday, about something which I'm sure was very interesting, but then I had to do homework and I forgot what it was.

My life is boring lately, so I have nothing to write about.

Well, not boring. Just not interesting in ways that translate to blog-posts.

Classes are going well. There's a party this weekend. That's pretty much it. More to come if I ever come up with something interesting again.

I'm sure I will. I just have to start paying attention to the news again.

I'm rambling. I should be in bed. Good night, all!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

um...

So, I'm sitting here on the couch, watching PBS Create, halfheartedly surfing teh interwebz and trying to decide if I should get some more Goldfish crackers or just go to bed. My brother, lying on the other end of the couch, is gently snoring, having long ago fallen asleep. Just as I finally decide against the Goldfish, Michael sits up, eyes still closed, and says (perfectly clearly), "Das ist gut, ja?"* then lies back down and resumes snoring.

O_o

*Forgive me if that is horribly misspelled; my scant German study was brief and long ago.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

mess

I haven't been able to sleep at night recently. I stay up all night doing nothing of interest or importance on the computer, and then when I hear the alarm clocks start going off in the morning, I quickly turn off the lights and try to fall asleep before everyone gets up and sees that I stayed up all night again. (I'm trying to set a good example — or at least not set a bad one — for Michael and Dakota, you see.) When I finally do fall asleep, I sleep all morning and wake up around eleven if I'm lucky and then I feel like a slug for the rest of the day, and it's so hard to get anything done. It's pretty much the opposite of the first part of last week.

This creates two problems: 1) I have things I really need to be doing that aren't getting done, and 2) staying up all night on the computer makes me feel angsty. I'm revisiting trains of thought I thought I'd thoroughly worn out in high school, and they don't satisfy me anymore, but nothing else does either, and that makes me angstier still. It's meta-angst.

I think the problem here is my protracted transition from summer back to school, partially caused and then compounded by the unexpected developments and general chaos of the past week or so, the biggest chunk of which is the loss of my room. Okay, to explain:

Through a long series of events which is not mine to relate here, my cousin Dakota, who is fifteen, has moved in with us for the time being, and is living in my room. Which is perfectly fine by me, since I hardly use it at all, even when I am home, and I'm leaving for school very shortly anyway. However, this is what really began all the upheaval for me, because it's one thing to clean out Michael's room (which we did for the new school year), put away what he wants to keep and throw away what he doesn't. It's quite another to clean out three years' worth of stuff from my room that's never really gotten put away, since I'm only home during the summers and mostly just use it as storage. Turning it back into a usable living space for someone who's not me (meaning I have to put all my little knickknacks and things somewhere out of the way so she'll have room to live in there and not feel crowded out by somebody else's junk) was pretty much a task of biblical proportions.

And of course, the great difficulty is, I now have all this stuff that I've taken out of my room so she'll have a place for her stuff to go in, and now what do I do with it? Most of it I'm keeping and taking to school, so it's not like I can just put it all in garbage bags and be rid of it, but a lot of it (namely clothes, shoes, etc.) I'm still using, and will be until at most a day or two before I leave, which isn't for another week yet. So I'm sleeping on the couch in the living room, my clean clothes are stacked up in an open suitcase downstairs, my shoes are in three different corners of the upstairs, and I've just basically spread myself all over the house. Which is exactly what we're trying to get the other two, especially Michael, not to do, so now I feel like a giant hypocrite, telling him he can't leave his backpack in the living room while I sit digging through my pile of laundry next to the couch.

It also means things are just incredibly cluttered. Much as I try to keep all my stuff organized and together, without a place to actually put it away, it just doesn't work. This is compounded by the fact that I did so much cleaning, organizing, and putting away last week in Michael's room and mine/Dakota's, that now I'm thoroughly sick of it, and this is further not helped by the sheer size of this mess. Sure, it's just one person's junk, but now instead of cleaning one small 10x12 room at a time, I have to clean basically every other room in the house. And that means the big rooms: the living room, family room, and the kitchen. And I have to clean them up without having any real place to put my stuff. I'm going in circles here. But you see my dilemma, yes?

It's the kind of mess that stresses me out, and if you know me, you'll know that those are few and far between; I'm usually quite alright with a certain level of controlled chaos in my life. But that is chaos in my room, my own personal space, not the house's public spaces. This chaos, being out where everybody sees it, is not controlled to my satisfaction, and so it's making me lash out and obsessively organize everything else I can get my hands on. I've been compulsively picking up after the kids, barking at them to put their things away, making sure their homework is done and put in its proper folder, things like that. I've been planning and cooking evening meals each day just for the calming effect of having a sit down dinner where we all sit and talk about how our day went. I've been doing dishes with far more relish than normal, because it is a task I can finish, and the sight of the clean, empty countertop is just so goddamned soothing. I've been doing the laundry voluntarily and asking to do the grocery shopping, because, again, these are small tasks that I can finish, and that makes me feel like I'm accomplishing something. I've turned into a perfect little housewife, and it doesn't even bother me, except the house is still a mess and I can't really fix it until I leave. How irksome.

Friday, August 28, 2009

politics and mundanities

(Is "mundanities" a word? I don't think it is. Ah well.)

So, summer is swiftly drawing to a close, and I find myself in the midst of various upheavals, as usual. Ah well. Here's what's going on lately, in no particular order:

-I was on TV tonight! Our Representative, Dan Burton (R-IN), held a town hall meeting about the proposed healthcare legislation, so of course I had to go and speak my piece, and on channel 15's 11:00 news, they showed me up at the microphone asking my question. It was very exciting, if I do say so myself, and I do.

-Summer jobs are winding down. I've been done with Stride Rite for a few weeks now (oh, it is nice), and tonight was my last night at Pizza Hut for the summer. I took on cleaning my mom's church again, basically for just this month until she could find somebody new, because the people she hired last year quit, and next week will be the last week for that. Yeah, I worked a lot this summer.

-My brother is officially a middle schooler now. He started 6th grade on Monday. He seems to like it so far. Mom's sending him to a little private K-12 school in Fort Wayne, and it seems like a really good place; I'm glad for him.

-My cousin has moved in with us. She's fifteen, and through a long series of events, she ended up going to the same school as Michael, and needing a place to stay, so I volunteered my room (since I'm leaving for school in less than two weeks anyway). Of course, that meant I had to clean my room (all my junk was just kind of lying in there; I've been sleeping on the couch all summer), but that's finally done, and as soon as I get all my crap packed up for school, the house will finally be more or less de-cluttered.

-Another cousin of mine is having a get-together this weekend at his lake house in Michigan. I am rather psyched. It sounds like it might be kind of cold for lake antics, but there will still be campfire doings and game playing and the like. It will be mad good times. And a canoe trip! Mustn't forget the canoe trip. :D

-And of course, most importantly, 12 days until Knox!

Monday, August 3, 2009

excitement

So, I am generally of the opinion that, while some things are easier (and just as good) pre-made or from a mix, one should try making just about everything from scratch at least once, just for the experience of doing so. In keeping with this idea, I had been considering for awhile now trying to make homemade pasta.

So this weekend, having tried and failed to stay awake during the day on Saturday, I instead stayed up all of Saturday night, Facebooking and watching PBS Create (one of the new digital channels, which is amazing), and there was this Italian cooking show, and the lady wasn't making pasta, but it reminded me of my intention to do so, so then around 8 AM, I drove into town and bought groceries, including some stuff to go with my pasta, and then I came back home and got to work.

Fun fact: making pasta is HARD. Not complicated — it's just flour and eggs — but physically taxing. Once you get your dough made, you have to knead it for 10-15 minutes so it gets nice and elastic-y, and then you have to roll it out flat.

Holy God.

You have to get it really really thin, like, about the thickness of a dime, or slightly less. I don't have a pasta machine, so I got to do it the old fashioned way, with a rolling pin. And this isn't like rolling out a pie crust — no, this stuff'll fight you every step of the way. It doesn't want to be flat; you have to make it obey, dammit. Cooking has never made me so tired!

But, once I got it rolled out, things got easier. I had decided I was going to make ravioli, so I whipped up some filling. I used some fake (vegetarian) ground beef that I found in the freezer, and I put in some onions, a homemade tomato-pesto sauce of my own design, and some freshly grated parmesan cheese, and hoo boy, it was delicious. So then I cut little rectangles of pasta, put on a glob of the filling, and crimped the edges to make raviolis, and then I boiled them up and served them tossed with melted butter with herbs. My mother said it was very good, and my brother (who claims to not like pasta) had two helpings. It was, by all accounts, an unmitigated success.

Next on my list of things to make from scratch: bread.

^_^

In other news, the summer keeps on rolling by, and the latter half of this week finally promises some fun to look forward to. I put in my notice and Wednesday will be my last day of work at Stride Rite, which will be nice. I mean, I don't mind third shift, but it will be a refreshing change of pace to wake up in the morning, instead of going to bed in the morning. I have a hard time convincing myself to sleep when such a beautiful day is breaking right outside my window. Also, I look forward to not totally screwing up my sleep schedule every weekend just so I can be awake when other people are; I've been cranky far more often than is normal for me this summer as a result of not getting enough sleep, and I don't like being cranky.

And, better yet, Wednesday night Kim will get here, and then on Thursday she and I and my mom and Michael and one of Michael's friends will all go to Indiana Beach, which will be mad good times. I am long overdue for some rollercoastering. Then I have to work at Pizza Hut on Saturday, but when I am done, I will be going down to Kim's to hang out there for a few days, which promises to be quite pleasant.

All in all, once I'm done with this Stride Rite business, it's looking like I might actually have some fun and relaxation this summer after all. I'm definitely psyched.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

recipe fail

I would like to point out, for anyone interested, that THIS does not constitute a recipe. Here, I'll just copy-paste, for extra convenience:
CHOCOLATE CAKE WITH PEANUT BUTTER
FUDGE FROSTING

1 Duncan Hines devils food cake mix
1 can Pillsbury chocolate fudge frosting
3 tbsp. peanut butter

Bake cake according to package directions. Cool. Add 3 tablespoons peanut butter to frosting and mix well. Frost cake. Kids love it!

Now, dear recipe poster, kindly ask yourself the following question: IF I HAD CAKE MIX AND STORE-BOUGHT FROSTING, WHY WOULD I BE LOOKING FOR A RECIPE, YOU DUMBFUCK?!

Ahem. I got off work early, so I am making cake. It seemed the logical thing to do.

That is all.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

I'm living for the weekend. Really.

So, I'm really glad I've got a job and all. It's nice to have income. And beggars certainly can't be choosers. But I can't say I'm sorry it's just for the summer. Working in a warehouse is not an enjoyable activity. Mostly what I do is picking, which means I get a list of pairs of shoes and where they are, go find them, and put them on a cart to be packed. It's really monotous, but you have to pay attention to a whole bunch of numbers at once (location, how many of each pair you need, which spot in your cart they go), so you can't even let your mind wander to more interesting topics. And I'm not even good at it — we get incentive pay if we pick over a certain percentage (I'm not sure of what, exactly), and the percentage I'm supposed to be at is something like 70 or 80 right now (I'd have to check to make sure; it goes up the longer you've been doing it), and I'm consistently making the high 50s or maybe low 60s. And I'm going as fast as I can. I really don't understand how people get 100% and more; my cart would be a wreck if I tried to go that fast, and I'd spend all my time running mispicks, erasing any time I might've gained.

On the other hand, this week, they've started having me do other things, which is nice. I'm not sure if it's because they have too many pickers, or not enough people doing other things, or because I just royally fail at picking, or perhaps some combination of these things. Either way, I'm not complaining. Sunday night I did ticketing for a while, where you put price stickers on boxes for the stores you're shipping them to, and it was way easy; I'd do that anytime. And then a little bit Monday night and almost all of Tuesday night I did DTS (direct to ship), throwing boxes on conveyor belts. It's kind of tiring, especially if you do it for a long time (even the little, light boxes get irksome once you've picked up a couple thousand of 'em), and Wednesday morning especially, I was one giant ache. But it's the kind of ache that will eventually go away, once those muscles get used to being used. And the cool part is, my numbers Tuesday night doing DTS were 126%. Yeah. That happened. So I really hope they let me do that more often, 'cause I could make some serious cash doing that.

Okay, going to bed now. Night, all — er, morning, that is...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

radio free Andi

So, now and again, when my vast music collection starts to bore me (as it occasionally does), I hop online and listen to Pandora, which, for those of you who don't know, is a particularly wonderful internet radio website. You tell them a song or artist you like, and it finds other songs and artists like it, and plays them to you. You can also create multiple stations, for when you want to listen to different kinds of music — for example, I've got some stations with names like "Sunny Day," "Sleepy Time," and "Rainy Afternoon," plus a whole station dedicated to Spanish pop-rock. It's a good deal, and it's all free. Or at least, it was.

Being that I like Pandora and have some interest in the things it does, I became a fan of it on Facebook, and yesterday, the Pandora Facebook page published a note saying, among other things, that they are going to start limiting free listening to 40 hours per month, and then charging $.99 for unlimited listening after that. (This of course doesn't affect paid subscribers, who already paid, so they get unlimited listening as well as no ads.) The reasoning behind this is that apparently, the music industry people (I don't know who, as I haven't been following this issue much) want to get royalties for when their songs get played on the radio. It then goes on to make this comment:
The system as it stands today remains fundamentally unfair both to Internet radio services like Pandora, which pay higher royalties than other forms of radio, and to musical artists, who receive no compensation at all when their music is played on AM/FM radio.
Now wait. I thought the point of radio was that you want them to play your songs, so that people hear them and think, "Oh, hey, that's a cool song, I should learn more about that artist/buy that song/buy that album." I should think that would be true with Pandora especially, because you seed it with stuff you like, and then it plays other stuff like that, and sometimes it's really off-the-wall, obscure stuff, that you otherwise would probably have never heard of (I get a lot of that, anyway). And since it shares important qualities with music that you've told it you like, there's a very good chance you'll like this other stuff too, even though you've never heard of it. And, with radio (in principal) being free for the end user, it seems bizarre that people should feel entitled to money for things being played on it.

I mean, with most things, it's the other way around — advertisers, for example, pay the radio station to play their stuff. And it used to be that way even for music (though not necessarily legally so).

At any rate, it's no huge deal for me, personally — I doubt I listen to Pandora for 40 hours in a month anyway, and even if I somehow manage to hit the limit, I still have my own vast collection of music to sustain me. And really, a dollar is hardly a terrible expense for those that want more Pandora. My problem really isn't the outcome of the issue; it's more the fact that the issue exists in the first place. It's a bizarre change in attitude from the way radio used to work.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

sideswiping arguments

I just wanna say, I'm really tired of the whole gay marriage "debate." Both sides think they're right, and they've got their arguments that they absolutely will not give up, and the stupid talking heads keep parroting the same soundbites and nobody's saying anything new.

The fundamental problem here is that the two sides aren't arguing the same points. The pro side says that not recognizing gay marriage is discriminatory because it's taking away a fundamental right by not letting gays marry, and the anti side says they're not denying anything because, definitionally speaking, a same-sex couple cannot "marry"—that is, to them, based on their own personal and/or religious beliefs, a marriage is only what happens between a man and a woman; anything else cannot be called a "marriage."

Now, break that down to its simplest version, and here's what you've got (and please note, I'm using "liberal" and "conservative" as blanket terms for the purposes of easy generalization here; I realize not all liberals and conservatives think these things):

LIBERAL: Gay people must have the same rights as straight people.
CONSERVATIVE: A same-sex partnership cannot be called a marriage, because that is not what marriage means.

Now, compare those two statements, and you may notice something significant—they have nothing to do with each other. You can't argue against a point by making a point of your own that is completely unrelated to the original point. Now, the ridiculousness of this argument is revealed when somebody tries to actually properly argue against one of these points. An example would go somthing like this:

LIBERAL: Gay people must have the same rights as straight people.
CONSERVATIVE: They do! A gay man can marry a lesbian just like any other man can marry any other woman. It's perfectly legal.

Or, conversely;

CONSERVATIVE: A same-sex partnership cannot be called a marriage, because that is not what marriage means.
LIBERAL: So call it something else?

Now, you may notice, this shit is kind of ridiculous. My own personal opinion is that the government shouldn't be in the business of "marriage" at all if it's going to cause so much fuss. Clearly, the mad right-wingers cannot understand the difference between civil marriage and religious marriage; therefore, eliminate the word "marriage" for legal and government purposes and give all couples, gay and straight, the same rights across the board, and call them "civil unions" or something of that ilk. If people demand to be "married," they can go to the church of their choice and get a religious "marriage;" meanwhile, everybody else can have a civil union, which would entail the full legal rights and status of what we now refer to as "marriage" in the legal sense, and then everybody's happy. Really, it's not that difficult.

So...yeah. This is what happens when I go home; everybody's in bed at like, 10 PM, leaving me alone in the middle of nowhere with nothing but network TV, so I end up compulsively refreshing Facebook and watching Charlie Rose. *sigh* It's gonna be a long summer.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

distraction

So, for my final paper for Young Adult Lit, I chose to write about The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Now that I sit here, trying to actually write the paper, it occurs to me that I should have picked any other book for my topic, because I like this one waaaay too much, and so when I go to look for something in it, I get distracted and start reading it again. And then I've wasted huge amounts of time reading when I'm supposed to be working.

I hate finals.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Poe's law

Okay, so it's actually satire. I was unsure for awhile there. But it's still the funniest damn thing I've seen in quite some time. Oh, fundamentalism.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

adventures in sleep deprivation

It's 5 AM, and I'm up finishing homework. This is my own fault, and I readily accept that, and I'm not particularly mad about it, just amused at what my sleep-deprived brain does at this point. For example, I'm typing a reading response for my Young Adult Lit class, and I'm literally falling asleep as I write. It's a problem. A moment ago, I realized I'd typed the following: "One of the most significant conflicts in this book is Steve’s internal conflict over his (getter gooze, or." Full stop.

*stretches* Three more sentences and I can stop. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...

Monday, May 11, 2009

the perks of great books

I am currently reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower for my Intro to Young Adult Lit class. This is the second time I've read it. The first time, I devoured it whole in a single evening (right before my eye surgery, you may recall). I wanted to read it again shortly after that, but I was scared to, because I liked it so much that first time that I was worried another read-through would not have the same impression. I mean really, emotionally speaking, it hit me like a train. Books don't usually do that to me. So I was leery of reading it again.

Come to find out, I needn't have worried. I started it again last night, and it was just as good as I remembered. I had to make a concerted effort to actually put it down and go to sleep, because it was 4 AM and I was dead tired—if my eyes hadn't kept closing of their own accord, I probably would've read it all through in one sitting again. I'll almost certainly finish it tonight, or tomorrow at the latest, because once I pick it up again, I won't drop it until it's done. It's that good.

Of course, that's actually kind of a problem this time, because I have to write a critical response for class, meaning something a little more in-depth than just "OMG♥♥♥♥♥!!!!!" I'll probably end up reading it again before I have to write the response. And I can actually do that, because I'm almost three weeks ahead on the reading for that class. Now if only my other classes inspired such a work ethic.

Anyway. Go read this book. Seriously. Do it now.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

consumption

I mentioned before that I am taking a class called "Alternatives to Consumerism." It is an interesting class, and I like it, I really do, but the portion of it we're in now is, well, not very helpful. We're doing a project about our personal spending habits, in which we're supposed to track all of the money we spend for one week. I guess this is supposed to be some enlightening experience in which we realize we spend more money than we think we do on things we don't really need or enjoy, and then decide what areas we want to cut back in, and if there are any areas in which we could increase spending to increase fulfillment. Which is all well and good, I suppose, but the thing is, I don't spend money that often. And very rarely on unnecessary things. And I don't feel like I'm skimping on anything, either.

My largest category of spending by far is classes (we had to figure out how much each class is costing us based on what we're paying/will have to pay back for tuition), which isn't really a variable—I want to continue attending this college, so that's what it's going to cost; I can't really cut back there. My next largest category is "necessary food," which is higher than I want it to be, but that's because I'm on the school's meal plan. Again, not really a whole lot I can realistically do about that (I certainly don't have time to shop and cook for myself, and from what I hear, getting off board is a pain in the ass anyway). My other three categories are "recreational food" ($25.65), "school supplies" ($2.44), and "other" ($31.39, twenty of which was the fee for the ballroom competition last weekend). Those all seem quite reasonable to me.

And not only am I satisfied with my spending, I had a pretty good idea of what most of those numbers were going to look like beforehand; this was not in any way an "enlightening" experience. Which, of course, leads to a problem: we're supposed to write a 3-4 page reflection paper on what we've learned from this project, but I haven't learned anything! I already knew what my spending habits were, and kept careful track of where my money was going, and was just fine with that. So what am I supposed to reflect on?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

This week, I have gotten:

-back to Knox.
-my groove on.
-tipsy.
-sick as hell.
-better.
-some books.
-ahead in my reading.
-tired of the caf.
-started with my classes.
-thoroughly excited for this term.

It's been a week of ups and downs. It was really nice to get back Sunday, obviously. Home is really boring. And we had a dance party that night, which was fun and dance-y. And then Monday I was sick. At first I thought maybe it was a hangover, except I didn't drink enough to be hungover, let alone that hungover. As in, I woke up and puked first thing (incidentally, the first time I've puked since the sixth grade—it's something I generally just refuse to do), then spent the day in my bed and then in the hammock feeling like death, and then I kind of passed out on the way back to bed, which was scary. But then I woke up Tuesday and felt better. So that was good.

And now I've had each of my classes once each, and I'm pretty damn psyched for all of them. Mondays and Wednedsdays I have History and Structure of the English Language, which sounds hella nerdy, because it is, but it's exactly the kind of nerdy that appeals to me. Tuesdays and Thursdays I have Young Adult Lit, which is my only 300-level class (the other two are 200s), and it's my favorite type of literature, and it's with Barbara Tannert-Smith, who is six different kinds of awesome. It's going to be like Children's Lit, except better, because we're reading Twilight, and I cannot wait for that because it's going to be excellently hilarious. And then on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I have Alternatives to Consumerism, which is exactly the super-liberal hippie-type class that conservative, capitalist-types think of when they think of the liberal indoctrination going on at those damn liberal arts colleges, and I'm SO EXCITED FOR IT. It's a topic that is interesting to me, it has real-life applications, and it's graded pass/fail, so it's pretty low stress. Also, the prof seems like rather an awesome dude.

I think I'm going to buy a video game this afternoon. I'm in quite a good mood today. Later.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

password lulz

When you reset your password on the Knox network, you get this message:

I love this place.

dog whistles

In today's news, it's still spring break for another couple of days, so I don't feel guilty about staying up all night surfing the politics blogs. I haven't done that much since I got back from Spain, and I realize now that I kind of miss it—I've been focusing far too much on school and my own life lately. I can't tell if that statement is ironic or not...

Anyway. So it's a bit old, but chalk it up to me just getting back into the swing of these things, and go read (or skim, at least) this article on Politico. Now, can I get a WTF?

Now, forgive me if I'm stating the obvious, but it seems like the author of this article may have missed a fairly crucial bit of evidence here: Barack Obama is—how shall I say this?—black. We understand this, yes?

This talk of "dog whistle politics," I really can't see how it applies here. I mean, if Mr. O were trying to keep his racial identity a secret, perhaps, but he's clearly not (or if he is, he's doing it really really wrong). Dog whistling is what happens when a politician wants to signal something to a specific group of people without the general populace knowing what's up—Bush's "phrases lifted from church hymns and the Bible" is an example of this because, generally speaking, non-Christians aren't going to catch those references. The Bible may once have been part of the popular lexicon in the US, but (and especially for my generation), this is increasingly not the case; hymns, often being specific to a few denominations, are even more obscure. Therefore, if you're not in the target audience, you probably won't catch the reference: hence, dog whistle politics.

However, the cited examples of Obama's "dog whistles"?
*“American dreams that are being deferred” - maybe it's just me, but I thought everybody read A Raisin in the Sun in high school. I mean, we read it in my (private, very whitebread) high school, in Indiana, no less. Just sayin'.

*Michelle's “South Side of Chicago" - Jim Croce was talking about this in 1973, and everybody's seen Save the Last Dance or an equivalent thereof. Next.

*"we as a people will get there" - Y'know what? I've looked over, and I've seen the Promised Land, and there are white people over there who know that MLK made more than one speech (*gasp*). And I bet I'm not the only one on this side who knows that either.

*Okay, the last one, I'll admit, I didn't get to Spike Lee and Malcolm X until college. But I did get there. And still, that's hardly obscure.
Again, dog whistles, to be effective, must generally be audible only to members of the target audience. I am not black, nor do I come from anything like a racially diverse background. I easily pick up on these references. Therefore, if they are dog whistles, somebody's DOING IT WRONG. More likely, however, is that the author of this article is grasping at straws to prop up an invalid and pointless argument.

A few more points with which I must take issue:
"Imagine John Kerry or Hillary Clinton saying, ‘Yes, we can!’ It would have sounded phony — only in what I call a ‘black-cent’ can it sound prophetic and arousing."
Um, no? It's a piece of rhetoric. Imagine John Kennedy saying that—could he have pulled it off? I think you'll agree he could've. The issue is not race, the issue is rhetorical prowess. I think we can all agree that John Kerry, among other things, was sorely lacking in that category.
Beyond speech, blacks have picked up certain of Obama’s mannerisms, particularly his walk, that signal authenticity. Bush had his cowboy strut, and Obama has a swagger — a rhythmic lope that says cool and confident and undeniably black. It was most noticeable on his first post-election trip to the White House, some said.
I really don't have much to say to that except, WTF? Does Obama swagger? Because I have certainly not noticed that. And even if he does, how the hell is that "undeniably black"? Besides being mindblowingly ridiculous, that strikes me as quite a racist thing to say, all told. Am I alone in this?
Notably, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has used phrases recently like “bling bling” to describe the stimulus package and “off the hook” to describe the new RNC outreach plans, at a time when he is trying to step up the party’s appeal to African-American voters.
You'll notice Obama doesn't do that. The reason? Because he's not making very obvious attempts to play focus-group, target specific politics. Those phrases would be tacky coming from Obama, just like they're tacky coming from Michael Steele, or anybody in any sort of position with political power and authority.

Takeaway lesson: Obama's NOT TRYING TO ACT BLACK. He IS black. There's a very important distinction there. He connects with young, intelligent, informed constituents, because he is young, intelligent, and informed. Not because he has a "black-cent" or because he "swaggers" or because he talks about "bling bling" (I'm fairly sure he does none of these things). Now, can we please get back to matters of policy and substance? (I know, it's a lot to ask from the politics blogs. But hey, a girl can hope.)

Friday, March 20, 2009

spring break

I'm so tired of being at home. There's nothing to do here. And, counterintuitively enough, sitting around all day doing nothing makes me really tired. I just want to sleep all the time, and then I feel like a slug for spending half the day in bed.

I need to be back at school. Then again, that brings with it its own set of difficulties. But really, it can't be as bad as this.

If you're reading this, it has been a waste of your time, and for that, I apologize. I'll quit whining and post something interesting when I get back to school, I promise.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

inappropriate

So, I'm chilling in my room for a bit this afternoon, taking a brief, celebratory semi-nap after finishing one ten-page paper before I have to start the next one (argh). I want some background noise, and I can't find the speakers for my mp3 player, so I put on the TV and put it on MTV-U, the college version of MTV, which is what we get with the Knox cable package, because they usually play music, and I really don't care what music it is, because I don't care about listening to it, I just want the noise.

So it's playing in the background, and I'm sort of half-dozing, half-facebooking, glancing up every now and then when I hear something that strikes my fancy, which does occasionally happen, because unlike regular MTV, MTV-U actually plays good stuff once in awhile. And then I hear this. On second thoughts, don't click that. It's the video for "Right Round" by Flo Rida. (And can I just say, that name is just too cute by half. And I mean that negatively.) Anyway. Have you heard this? It's a remake of this, which you should click on, because it's the video for Dead or Alive's "You Spin Me Round." The original is full of 80s win. The new one? Is about a blow job. Seriously. I am SO DAMN SICK OF HEARING RAPPERS RAP ABOUT GETTING BLOWJOBS! (See, it ticks me off so much it makes me CAPSLOCK. GR.) It was annoying when Lil' Wayne did it, and it's still annoying now, and it will ALWAYS continue to be annoying, from now until FOREVER. So to any rappers, future rappers, or wanna-be rappers (or anybody else, really) who might ever see this: I DON'T WANT TO HEAR ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE GETTING A BLOWJOB. EVER. And if I ever do, and then happen to meet you in person, I will gouge out your eyes with rusty spoons. Seriously. I am going to start carrying rusty spoons on my person, so that I will be prepared for this potentiality.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

haunted by history

So, I spent basically my entire weekend researching and writing a ten page paper for my poli-sci class about the US's founding fathers and the separation of church and state. It was a pretty interesting topic, and the paper, while rushed, came out pretty decent, I'd say. But I think the extreme immersion in books about dead white men has addled my brain.

For example, I'm sitting here reading an article for a paper I'm writing in another class, and I'm kind of sleepy, so I'm dozing a little off and on, and I just had the most bizarre dream, where the ghost of James Madison was haunting my bathroom, except he had the appearance and personality of Napoleon. I don't really know that much about Napoleon, except that he was short and power-hungry, but I knew that's what he was like. But he was still James Madison. (I told you it was bizarre.)

Anyway, in my dream, I was taking a shower, and he (the ghost of James Madison) was standing outside the shower, and we were talking, but of course it was a dream and I found it totally normal that he was there, talking to me like my mom does when I'm showering at home and she comes in to brush her teeth or something. Anyway, we (the ghost and I) were arguing about something, I forget what, and then I went to get out of the shower and we were really arguing by this point, and he pushed me over, and I'm like, fuck that shit, so I said, "Begone, James Madison, you don't actually exist," (because of course he's a ghost). And he disappeared. And then I woke up.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

in which there is some long-overdue Twilight hate

A preface
[I'll admit, I read all four books. All my friends were doing it, and it seemed like the thing to do. I know, I know, peer pressure is bad. Well I found that out. Anyway. I have lots of problems with the Twilight series, some of them more fleshed out in my head than others. Probably first and foremost are issues of content, that is, subjects, themes, and particularly the disturbingly anti-feminist messages that seem so glaringly obvious throughout the books. However, I'm in English-student mode this evening, so this post will focus mainly on form and style. Okay, disclaimer out of the way. ¡Adelante!]


So, I've made this rant to a few people now, but I really just want to put it out there: speakers of American English DO NOT SAY "ER." Y'know, "er," the little filler word they use in place of "uh" in the Harry Potter books. They don't. Think about it. Have you ever, EVER, in conversation, heard a speaker of American English say "er" without consciously thinking about it? No. No you haven't. Because speakers of American English do not say it. They say "uh."

Now, the reason it's in Harry Potter is because the British *do* say it; however, spoken with a British accent, "er" would be basically indistinguishable from the American "uh." It's the same sound. They just spell it that way because they're British, and their 'r's don't work the same way ours do.

However, whenever I see it in a novel by an American, about American characters, it ticks me off, because it is WRONG. And it is particularly prevalent in one of my favorite targets of hatred, the Twilight series. Stephenie Meyer loves "er." Seriously. Pick a section of dialogue from any of those books, and besides horribly stilted and crappy prose that would make you cringe to hear out loud, you will also find "er" in large quantities.

I'm fairly sure this is because of Harry Potter, and the semi-creepy fetishization of all things British that has followed those books' rise in popularity among some groups on this side of the pond. I mean, you read any half-decent Harry Potter fanfiction (or even the truly terrible, actually), and you will likely find "er." And really, the only things that distinguish Twilight from really crummy fanfiction are that 1) the characters' names are not recognizable from a previously published work (though their personalities are generally direct lifts from any number of stock characters throughout the history of FOREVER), and 2) you're reading it on paper, not a computer screen.

And besides that, it really does have all the hallmarks of truly terrible fanfiction. The heroine is an obvious Mary Sue (didn't Meyer even come right out and say that Bella was based on herself? I can't find it now, but I'm sure I read that somewhere...), with a "flaw" (klutziness) that is supposedly major in her life, but perceived as everyone around her by adorable and/or endearing. The characters are, for the most part, completely and utterly flat. Seriously, some of them have real potential—the dad, hello?!—but Meyer just leaves them blank, with a few tacked-on adjectives or superficial descriptions serving as placeholders for depth. The dialogue is stilted and cheesy, and the prose in general is overly descriptive and weak (I love adjectives and adverbs far more than is healthy for a creative writing major, and even I was fed up!). And the entire plot is glaringly predictable: Edward wins. Edward is going to win from the first moment Bella sets eyes on him from across the cafeteria. Those die-hard Jacob fans were fooling themselves the entire time, because Bella's feelings were were described so heavy-handedly, it was like Meyer took one of the Cullens' baseball bats and whacked the reader over the head with it, shouting, "EDWARD IS GOING TO WIN!" Really. Just like that.

But the coup de grâce, the absolute most truly terrible fanfiction moment, was the child's name in Breaking Dawn. I thought real people knew you weren't supposed to combine two fairly normal names into some strange, exotic-sounding bit of nonsense and then label a person with that. Seriously. Reneé: perfectly respectable name. Esme: a little soap-opera-y, but okay, I can deal with that. But Renesme?! If there were a kid named that, she would be laughed out of kindergarten, by the teacher if no one else. The epilogue to the Harry Potter series was bad enough, what with the kids being named things like "Albus Severus" and "Theodore James" or whatever the hell they were...I remarked to numerous people at the time that I loved the book, up until that, at which point it sounded like bad fanfiction. Which is exactly what the Twilight books sound like, except all through.

Oh and speaking of Harry Potter, I must express my extreme distaste with the near CONSTANT comparisons between Stephenie Meyer and J.K. Rowling.* They have both written extremely popular series of (at least nominally) fantasy books geared mainly towards children and/or young adults. This is where the comparisons should end. While I recognize that J.K. has her faults as a writer, her stories were well plotted, her characters were (for the most part) fleshed out and realistic, and the books were genuinely entertaining. The Twilight books share none of these characteristics. Even Stephen King thinks so—in what is probably my favorite bit of reporting ever, he is quoted in the U.K.'s Guardian as saying, "The real difference [between Meyer and Rowling] is that Jo Rowling is a terrific writer and Stephenie Meyer can't write worth a darn." Now, let's be honest kids, Stephen King is not a stellar writer. He writes entertaining stories that sell well (though I found his Dark Tower series to be highly enjoyable). And if even Stephen King thinks you're a bad writer, well, that's saying something, y'know?

Anyway, I'm beginning to exhaust my hate for the evening, but I do want to quote this passage from an article in Time Magazine, contrasting Meyer's writing with J.K. Rowling's:
Rowling pieces her books together meticulously, detail by detail. Meyer floods the page like a severed artery. She never uses a sentence when she can use a whole paragraph. Her books are big (500-plus pages) but not dense--they have a pillowy quality distinctly reminiscent of Internet fan fiction. (Which she'll readily grant: "I don't think I'm a writer; I think I'm a storyteller," Meyer says. "The words aren't always perfect.") Whereas Rowling's works maintain a certain English reserve, Meyer's books are full of gusting emotions. Bella never stops gasping and swooning and passing out and waking up screaming from nightmares. Her heart is always either pounding or stopping. (Bella's histrionics don't feel at all unrealistic. When you're writing about adolescents, melodrama and realism are the same thing.) Rowling labors over her intricate plots, but Meyer's stories never bend or twist or branch. They have one gear, and she guns it straight ahead till the last page.
This passage in particular, and the article in general, were written in what seemed to be a praising tone. That makes me sad. If any of the above were ever said about a piece of my writing, I'd probably want to throw it out and start over from scratch. If this is what the public wants, I shall never, ever be published. And I can't find it in my heart to say that'd be an entirely bad thing.

*But, you might be saying, isn't that exactly what's going on in most of this post? And I would answer you no, what I am doing is contrasting, not comparing, which is entirely different and completely warranted in this situation.

Friday, February 20, 2009

I'm still alive...

I am a bad blogger lately.

In other news, apparently I am also a rational mastermind.

That is all.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

a scattering of the mind

I have way too many things I should be doing right now.

Actually, no, I don't have that many things. Not right now, anyway. Homework-wise, I'm almost completely caught up for the immediate future; I need to write a 4-5 page paper for Friday, which I have not started on, but it's poetry analysis. I have decided which two poems I'm doing, and there will be no more progress until tomorrow, because I can't write good papers ahead of time, I simply can't. I have other things that I know are coming up, but I am feeling way too ADD to make it worth the effort to start any of them tonight.

And there are various other things I want to or think I ought to do, not for school, but just to do. I need to patch my pants, because the patch is coming off. I want to do some stuff with my computer. I need to write an email to somebody, and I need to write a letter to somebody else. I might work on the letter tonight; it's to my dad, and it needs to get written; I'm sure I'll feel better once it's done.

I could just go to bed. I've been tired all day, and it would be nice to not be tired all day tomorrow. But I don't think I'd sleep if I went to bed now. It's one of those days.

This post is pointless. Blaaaahhhh...

Monday, January 26, 2009

midterms already

I have a midterm due/scheduled for this week in every one of my classes. IT'S ONLY THE FOURTH WEEK OF TERM! This is not acceptable, profs!

However, I'm actually not too terribly worried about it. Two of them are papers, one due tomorrow (well, today now, I guess), and the other due Friday, and the other is an actual exam, also on Friday. The papers are only five pages each, and the exam will apparently be short answer, so I can deal with that. I've got the paper due tomorrow (today) done already—in fact, I finished it at like, 4:00 this afternoon (woo, getting things done early!). And I've finished all my other assigned reading and daily work up through Tuesday. So actually, I'm way ahead for the time being. It's kind of a new and wonderful feeling. All I've got to do is write the other paper (poetry analysis—no big thing) and study for the Friday exam (I think I'm going to draw up outlines—it shouldn't be too arduous a task), plus any reading that gets assigned on Tuesday or Wednesday. If I can manage to stay on top of things and not get too cocky, this week might actually be kind of relaxing.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

an important announcement

This is not a waltz.

It is, however, a really catchy song.