Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Cry 'Havoc,' the Beloved Country

So, I applied for my first credit card. A Shell Gas Card. I've been using one of these bad boys since I was sixteen, but the account was always an addition to my parents'. So, I decide it's time for my own. I apply online. Couple days later, they send me this note. Yes. We will give you a card. You will have 200 dollars credit. Your interest rate will be 21.99%. In other words, they told me to go find an iron pipe and sit with it in my hand until inspiration struck. Today, I get an unsolicited email from my bank. They're like, Hey! We'll give you 13,975 dollars worth of credit at 1.9%, until you screw up. Then it goes up to 6%. What's wrong with this picture? I've had this bank account for a year.

Anyway, I have a slight fever. I have constant jabbing pains in my neck and a sore throat. What's new with you?

Watched the first episode of Rome on McKenzie's friend's floor. It was boring. Pretty much. It did have a couple of entertaining moments. All in all, not my favorite HBO program.


On an unrelated note, can you imagine concealing a potentially terminal disease/syndrome from your partner/spouse and circle of friends, and then outing yourself after you are in remission? Something like: By the way, I didn't want to tell you sharks, because I thought you might scent blood in the water, but I was dying. Now, I'm better.

I've been told this is common practice.


Season Four of Star Trek: TNG is awfully familycentric.


The Go! Team album is dementedly happy. Double dutch sampling? I mean, c'mon. That's pretty rad.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Bulgar Wheat for the Vulgar-tongued Keats

Today, I will be working on a paper. And grading Final Exams from Operation: Get Paid: Summer Paid.

What else?

I had bulgar wheat and zucchini with egg for breakfast. Delicious.

I am learning the rudiments of html by osmosis. Here, "osmosis" refers to the process of trying to make a decent-looking blog. You might notice the subtle touch of the geometer's shoes and protractor peeking out at the footer. A little joke about my frustrations in trying to get images into the background with any kind of subtlety, one inspired by my new title. To be honest, it could have happened just as easily t'other way.

In actual life, the news is that my MA interview is set for the end of the first quarter. My paper will be the one on Keats that I am still re-writing. It's about (NB, if you don't care, then just skip a bit. The next parenthetical will tell you when to pick it up again.) the relationship of the Fall of Hyperion to Hyperion. More than that, it is about how the particularly figural and self-critical relationship of the Fall to Hyperion brings a lot of pressure to bear on critics of the text, which results in the critics just making things up. I put it in stronger terms. The action is an alchemical one which almost always results in some kind of speculative critical fiction. Especially from Historicist and New Historicist critics. The kind of fiction I'm talking about goes like this: Keats said in his letter dated something something, the following three words: "lend," "earn," and "circumstance." Those three words also appeared in the titles of editorial articles in The Examiner six days previously. In that issue, there was another article, in the back, about the effects of Napoleon's conquest on England's economic position. Keats probably read that paper and, if he did, this poem could really be a contemporary examination of the effects of empire in historical succession. My secondary evidence? Well, Apollo-->Apollonian-->Naapollion. I did not make this up. Throw in some pseudo-science--read "psychoanalysis"--about him trying to break free of Milton's Rigidly Phallic Statuesque influence, and you have one of the major New Historicist books on Keats that discusses these poems. One of the major books on Keats in the last 20 years. My question was "How does this happen?" Then, I wrote a paper about how it might. And how the "might" part was because of how self-critical this particular work is and how it asks questions about what genre it is. (Okay. That's over. You can resume reading.)

So, that's what I'm doing today. Re-writing. To make up for all of that, here is a delightful link.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Future's Salutations, Capillary Action, and The OCCOC Building C.

Woke up too early this morning: It was a terrible mistake.

McKenzie gave me some Niacin to take, as she has been doing. Before you accuse her of trying to poison me, as I have done, imagine that she will--instead of arguing or giving up--refer you to numerous sources that indicate that the dissemination of Niacin into my blood stream might pertain to her claim to use Science to combat my high tryglycerides and stave off pancreatitis, despite the claims of one Paracelsus, M.D., who gave the educated and expert opinion that ALL substances were, in fact, poisonous. I read it in National Geographic.

This is not the story. The story is that the last time I took it, it felt like getting a mild sunburn for about fifteen minutes. This was due to my capillaries irising open and being scoured by the equivalent blood-load of a 1,000 year blood-storm. This morning, because I was made aware in advance of the "flush" effect--in part by McKenzie's hideous, shrieking reaction earlier in the year and in part by gentler reminders--as well as the fact that the "flush" gradually decreased in intensity, I anticipated a sunburn of the 10 minute variety. What I received was a thin slice of hell shoved under my dermis. Have you ever felt like your eyelids, nostrils, elbows, and tongue were on fire? At the same time? I have.

After I took the pill and before I paid the piper, I was successful in establishing a rapport with the Future. My friend Madame Hogg is in China, now, and that effectively means that we, as a collective, have extended one gelatinous pseudopod into Tomorrow. Come to think of it, I received a message from Mssr. Mike "High Class" A.D. from Japan not long ago. So, make that two tentative blurrings of the empiricist conception of time.

I also had the unfortunate experience of having to go to Santa Ana today--yet another rung in the ladder leading to the establishment of residency in the State of Alta Mexico. There were some interesting things that happened.

First of all, the administration of the county's business takes place in a complex of buildings that shares a corner with a DonutStar/Chinese Wok Express. I don't know that I have fully articulated my near prescient declaration that such a thing needed to exist--that I would, if it did not, bring it into existence through force of will or force of capital investment or both. Edward, of course, will remember that magical day in 1999, when I had that amazing idea. 24 hour donut/chinese place. He, of course, being himself, modified the idea to a 24 hr. chinese/donut delivery place. The final iteration was the 24hr delivery Taco Stand/Confectionery Emporium and Bazaar. Well, I can tell you all: that particular version of paradise is here, on Earth, at the corner of McFadden and Edinger, Santa Ana, CA, USA. Second, I was treated to the obligatory politically motivated smelly homeless guy lecture at the OCCOC, where I was to obtain a replacement Voter Registration Card. This guy demanded of me whether campaign disclosures required candidates to inform the public not only of their party affiliation and their contributors, but also of their occupation. I shrugged. He assured me that he would not vote for any plumbers. I nodded. Third, rather than a "replacement" card (N.B., the scare quotes are to indicate that there was no Original card, the county having failed to send it) they printed out a screen capture of a computer program that looks like a poor attempt to create documentation in Photoshop. As you can imagine, I was less than pleased at this, because the establishment of my resident status represents an important and substantial financial necessity. The process is rather lengthy and fraught with obscurely threatening language and affidavits. If I am suspected of forging this piece of shit, then I will not only not be established as a resident, but also be expelled from the UC system for a period not shorter than five years. Lastly, as a made my way to a car, a black man--approximately my height and a few years older--shouted at me. "Hey!" he yelled. "Hey!" he yelled again. I turned around, to see if he was addressing me. He was. "Yeah?" I asked. "My man," he said, rather politely, "You wouldn't be headed toward the train station, would you?" I said, "I don't know. Which way is the train station?" At this point, he seemed to become agitated with me. "That way!" he shouted, again. "Sorry," I said, "I'm going back up Edinger to 55." "Man," he said, "forget you." Then he walked off, squinting up into the sun that shone past the DonutStar sign and through the grit- covered trees. As I put my key into my car door, I wondered if I would have offered him a ride if he hadn't started shouting again. I decided that it was hard to tell, but that I was already uneasy from the political lecture, so...probably not. That depressed me.

Monday, August 22, 2005

The Verdict

Since we're on a movie kick, I have something to say about David Mamet. I don't get it. He strikes me as someone who, always writing from a position of intellectual superiority, is incapable of writing struggle. The characters he writes that do not operate in cocksure-itude fall extremely flat. Paul Newman's character Frankie Galvin in The Verdict is a great example. Newman does his job well, and I find myself completely uninterested. Charlotte Rampling's character is by far the most interesting. Mamet seems to know this, which is why the verdict referred to in the title is not the verdict with which we, as an audience, are concerned. The fact that Rampling's character's fate is more compelling than the main character's or...frankly...the main plot should not be the basis for some clever, script-driven legerdemain. It should be the basis for a rewrite. But that's where Mamet and I seem to differ. So, see The Verdict. Let me know if what I am saying makes any sense whatsoever.


Also, there is no possible way for someone's prowess to be "potent and secretly stern." Why does that bug me so much?

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Watch me opine: Philosophic Dilettantism, Didactic Failures, and Pornographic Recommendations

In light of the apocalyptic stylings of recent blogversations, I have decided that I needed to change my venue. To find my way to blue rafters, so to speak. I thought that I would point those of you engaged in a dispute over aesthetic judgments to a passage from Kant that pertains to claims on universal assent:

"Someone who feels pleasure in the mere reflection on the the form of an object...rightly lays claim to everyone's assent, even though this judgment is empirical and a singular judgment. For the basis of this pleasure is found in the universal, though subjective, condition of reflective judgments, namely, the purposive harmony of an object...with the mutual relation of the cognitive powers (imagination and understanding) that are required for every cognition." (Ak. 191)

The translation is Werner S. Pluhar's. If you take "objects" to mean things that can be cognized, then either Film or movies qualify under this general category (though I doubt Kant would consider the term "category" to be of an appropriate scale with this discussion). What I'm basically pointing out is, as long as you have reflected upon it, it seems that all of you have a right to demand our assent as to your aesthetic judgment of the films of Michael S. Bay or S. Soderberg (who, for the record, is a good director, but not one of my favorites; also for the record, I prefer the original Solaris movie as an adaptation of the novel, but the second movie is pretty good for what it is: a remake) as long as you received that pleasure from honest-to-betsy reflection on the form (regardless of meaning or content--LMZ). Sense pleasure does not qualify.


On another tip, I've had this kid in my classes all summer that I have designated Object Code: Beezelbub. This kid sits up front. He speaks English as a Second Language, and it has ostensibly been my task to prep him for the PSAT. Most of my compatriots at A---, the institution in question, believe that the whole process is just an elaborate sleight-of-hand manoeuvre, whereby we convince ourselves that we are teaching basic English instead of PSAT prep, convince the students that we are teaching something meaningful, and convince the students' parents that we are unaware that they consider us to be cheap daycare for their spawn.

Beezy is incapable of telling the difference between an on-topic question and a tangential one. This leads to interesting queries such as: "How do you spell 'autumn'?" To which I respond, "A-U-T-U-M-N." To which he replies, "No, how do you spill ah atom?" To which I riposte, "A-T-O-M." At which point he gargles: "You never understand! I ha a accent!" And, at the end of my patience, seeing as we were talking about demonstrative pronouns when this whole cat-and-mouse exchange went down, said: "Well, fix it." He says, "How?" I say, "Try to enunciate. Slow down. Say each word as clearly as you can." He comes back with "How do you split an atom?" At this point, we have spent so long on this exchange--and I feel so guilty for my snarky "Fix it"--that I feel obliged to respond. A five-minute digression begins, because, as with all of Beezy's questions, he lacks the foundation to actually understand any meaningful answer. To explain how one might split an atom, I have to ask if he knows what an atom is. He doesn't. So, I have to go through the basic parts and terms of an atom while the rest of the class either leans forward excitedly or balances on the very verge of apoplectic rage at yet another beezified lecture. After class, he asks me how to fix his accent, and I say, "Well, it would help if you could speak English outside of class. Just speaking everyday will help you with your basic ability. From there, you can get specific help with particular problems." He nods, steps outside the classroom, and a waist-high blur tackles him. They begin to grapple on the ground, apparently cursing in Taiwanese. And so it goes.
Update: Hyapatia Lee is disturbingly pretty.