Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Degrees of camping

One time Steve asked me if we could go camping sometime and I said SURE with great enthusiasm; and this surprised him because I am not a very outdoorsy kind of person, so he asked whether I liked camping and I said I LOVE CAMPING, and he said, But where would you go to the bathroom?

I said, In the bathroom, up the hill from the campground. And we stared at each other blankly for a while, and then, to make it clear what kind of camping I was accustomed to (and what kind of camping I had every right to expect if we ever went camping), I added, Right before making pancakes for breakfast, in the pan that we hook up to the electrical outlet, next to the tents. YA CRAZY.

Actually, in recent years my camping activities have been kind of not so much roughing it. We do build fires and roast marshmallows and eat delicious s’mores, but we also camp inside of modular cabins (they’re modular. there are first-class cabins at this place, and there are modular ones. I don’t know what that means either.) rather than tents, and we have masses of delicious food to eat. The last time we went camping, my family was living in one cabin, and my lovely uncle and aunt were living in the next cabin, and those of us who didn’t feel like hiking or canoeing confined our activities to moving from one cabin to another in search of our next meal.

(In our defense, the meals were extremely tasty. My father made flying biscuits for breakfast, and we had eggs and bacon as well, and I don’t remember what the dinners consisted of but I know they were the most fantastic dinners of all time.)

The time before that I had just discovered Elizabeth Peters, so I basically sat on the couch in the modular cabin and read the first four Amelia Peabody books (ah, what a happy time that was!), and I think I went walking with my mother once. I am at heart a lazy, lazy person, and when you discover a brand new excellent author it is hard to feel enthusiastic about going on paddleboats (killing machines that they are) or exploring the forest. Although usually I enjoy exploring forests, as long as I can be sure there are no Lyme-disease-spreading ticks.

Now, when I was a child, we were really really hardcore. One time we went camping and it was so, so, so windy that we could barely set up our tent, and once it had been set up we had to stay in it all the time or it would blow away. My father used to take my sisters and me camping all the time, and we would set up our own tents and put sleeping bags and make hot dogs over a fire (sometimes - we weren’t the best fire-makers of all time), and Dad would take us into the nearest town and we would buy crap with our allowances, and in the morning, as I have said, we would make pancakes. That’s what you DO when you go camping.

I mention this because apparently there are people in the world who just go find a spot of ground and put a tent on it and don’t worry about whether there is a bathroom or a shower place! They just don’t take showers until they come home again! And I want these people to realize that things can be different for them. Camping can be much more joyous than you think, people. There can be pancakes.

Monday, January 29, 2007

The Queen

Okay, so here’s my very first Oscar-nominated-film review, and it is of Stephen Frears’ The Queen, starring the incomparable Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II and Michael Sheen as Tony Blair. Of course I am inclined to like it because Helen Mirren, you know, she was very delightful in Calendar Girls and Gosford Park; and Michael Sheen, you probably don’t know, was in Wilde with Stephen Fry and played darling darling Robbie Ross whom I love so dearly that I called my stuffed rabbit comfort object after him. Nonetheless I have tried to view it with the cold eye of criticism, and we shall see how I manage.

I am glad to report that the hype over Helen Mirren’s performance as Queen Elizabeth is fully deserved. She is excellent, very understated and serious and regal, and sometimes she turns her head a certain way and the resemblance is just uncanny. Michael Sheen is delightful as Tony Blair, although it’s hard to be fond of his character however sympathetically he plays it, because We All Know where his prime ministership is going, and my brain keeps saying, Ya young fresh-faced whippersnapper, you’re ten years older and much less popular now so don’t you make that grinny little face at me, because I know about you. Sympathetic portrayals all round, and the flim doesn’t even take cheap shots at Prince Philip, which would be so awfully easy and fun for everyone. Well played all.

Now I must preface my gentle criticism by saying that I am aware that a flim such as this would be very difficult to write, as most everyone in it is still around and it would be tacky to show the characters being nasty during a tragedy like this even if they are nasty in real life. That said, I think the film suffers from too much sensitivity. The princes are not given any lines but are only seen from the back and at a distance, so Queen Elizabeth will be saying, Shush, the boys will hear you, and gesturing at two out-of-focus lads on the opposite bank. This is of course very tactful and correct, well done Stephen Frears, well done Peter Morgan The Script Man, I genuinely applaud you for sensitivity.

But really it’s a bit silly. Can we all agree it’s a bit silly? Those princes over there – yeah, I know you can’t see them, but I swear they’re there. Stephen Frears and his coy games. It’s like a really really really low-budget B-movie where you just see a vague fuzzy shot of the monster and then lots of shots of everybody screaming and running away. Such contrivances lead to a feeling of tentativeness in the film as a whole, no matter how assured the performances of the actors.

Overall very good. Won’t win Best Picture (unless the Academy really can’t resist the lure of the monarchy), and the metaphor of the deer isn’t awfully subtle, and there’s always the inevitable feeling that the filmmakers are exploiting Princess Diana just a little; but if they are, they’re doing it with class.

P.S. mainly for Robyn but really for anyone: If I ever mention a film that you would like to see, just mention it to me and I’ll try to arrange a viewing for you when I come back to the States.

The Painted Veil

Now, this one isn’t Oscar-nominated, I will confess. But it is Oscar-snubbed, and I think that qualifies it for a review.

It’s about this society girl (Naomi Watts) who cheats on her boring doctor husband (Edward Norton) with a married guy (Liev Schreiber), and when the husband finds out he takes her into the middle of a big cholera epidemic in rural China. He looks boring but he’s really ruthless. Oh, and I was lying about him being a doctor, he’s boringer than that, he’s a bacteriologist. Anyway, enduring all the hardship makes him less boring and her less frivolous, which brings them together, and since they’re in a cholera epidemic you can probably see where all this is going, but I won’t spoil it for you.

I actually really enjoyed the film, and it pains me to say anything bad about it because I love Edward Norton so, and I always want everything he’s in to be perfect. He’s very good in this with all the intensity and the below-the-surface anguish and the British sang-froid – though not, I regret to say, the British accent, which he is really just phoning in. Naomi Watts has a character arc and pulls off the period piece woman thing with aplomb; the supporting cast (Toby Jones as a kindly squished-face colonialist guy, Diana Rigg as a disenchanted nun) are wonderful; the cinematography showcases China’s beauty and sets it in sharp contrast with the cholera misery and wretchedness and corpses. All the elements were in favor, and this should have been a better film than it is.

One problem is that everything’s rather bloodless. I’m definitely not a fan of on-screen violence (I can’t even watch people getting shots), but the cholera, it just didn’t seem that bad. Apart from the occasional obligatory tragic corpse with blue feet poking pathetically out of shrouds, we didn’t see much of people being sick. This could have been one of those subtle things that works brilliantly, but it really wasn’t. Plus everyone kept setting up difficulties and then knocking them down very rapidly – like, the warlord didn’t want to help build a water-transferring thing, but then someone said “British army” to him and he caved instantly; or there was a big deal about this huge group of people coming into town and contaminating everything, but the next thing you know they’re safely camped outside of the town and it’s fine. While Walter and Kitty’s relationship works quite well, many of the other bits of the film wind up as background noise or obvious tools for uniting the wretched couple.

The moral of the story is that hardship brings people together but can also end up killing them so it is not the best fix for a shaky marriage. Also that China is pretty, and colonialism and armies make everything trickier. And I liked it, and a more gritty depiction of cholera would have made me sad, so I say go ahead and ignore the lacklustre-osity. Realism is overrated anyway.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

‘Tis a bleak and dismal country I live in

They don’t have drive-throughs here! I am so not even kidding. They don’t have a single speck of a drive-through food place in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. All they have is drive-through banks now and again, and although those are lots of fun because you get to watch the canister go wooshing up the tube and the nice bank ladies give you lollipops (you can see that I have never actually patronized a drive-through bank as an adult), they are not at all the same!

So I have a few questions for you, Great Britain.

Can a drive-through bank give you delicious French fries with small containers of sweet and sour sauce? No.

Can a drive-through bank save you from starvation late at night when you are in a hurry and you don’t want to go inside a sketchy fast food restaurant in the middle of the night? No.

Can a drive-through bank save you from starvation at all? No. They only give you one or maybe two lollipops each, and then only if you are young and cute.

Can a drive-through bank…Oh, but you get the idea, Great Britain. I don’t want to rub salt in the wound. I understand that everyone here drives a stick shift and that makes it harder to eat while driving, and that you have therefore felt it necessary to outlaw any eating or drinking whatsoever while driving. Okay. But about that, two things. One, it is very possible to eat while driving a stick. I have done it lots of times. I wouldn’t be so confident as to say that I could dip my French fries in sweet and sour sauce while driving stick, but I am content to eat French fries without sauce. And it is easy to set a bag of French fries or chicken nuggets in one’s lap while driving and consume them very safely between gear changes. Two, what about the other people in the car? THEY WILL STARVE.

This has to stop. I call upon the citizens of the United Kingdom to rise up as one and demand their drive-through rights! Do not allow yourselves to be forced to park your car and go into fast food places! Insist upon drive-throughs! They are convenient and efficient, allowing many useful professional people to seize a quick cup of coffee in the morning on the way to work and get to work on time, ready to save lives and defend murderers and file papers and program computers!

(No one could fail to be moved by such stirring rhetoric.)

Incidentally, I am now on a Mission to watch lots and lots of Oscar-nominated films before I see the Oscars themselves, as it is more fun to watch award shows if you know something about the things and people getting awarded. Ellen DeGeneres is hosting them, so it would be a shame for me not to appreciate them to the fullest, since I have been telling the Academy for years (at least two — when did Finding Nemo come out?) that she should host the Oscars. The Academy has started to really listen to me. Last year I told them, Get Jon Stewart or Ellen DeGeneres, and they got Jon Stewart, and this year I told them, Get Ellen DeGeneres, and they got Ellen DeGeneres. I influence them with my mind powers.

But that’s beside the point. I was going to say, so watch for brief movie reviews. I am going to be an Oscar-nominee-movie-reviewing FIEND (if I have enough time).

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The birthday of Anna banana

It’s today! Happy birthday Anna! Hooray for you, it is your birthday!

A list of five things I would like the world to know about Anna:

1. When we were little I bit her foot and she tattled on me. Or possibly she bit my foot and I tattled on her. These things get very hazy as time goes by. Anyway, one of us was a dirty tattletale. We are sister-friends again now but it took a lot of therapy because you can’t just get over something like that right away.

2. She likes to climb up very high trees and sit in them doing knitting or whittling. She also likes to have a very big stick that she has skinned and conquered, so that she can whap people with it, like that time Bonnie slept over and turned off a light in the middle of the night and Anna whapped her with Cudgie (that is the name of her much-lamented (by her) cudgel). This is really two things about Anna but I think it counts as one because they are both wood-related.

3. She got hooked on Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip just by listening to it. She didn’t even watch the first like seven episodes but she was so intrigued by what she heard that she started watching it with us. Mondays at 10 on NBC! Unless you want it to get cancelled like every other good show in the whole world!

4. As a child she liked to catch lizards, and this one time she caught a lizard and Robyn really wanted to hold it and Anna told her she couldn’t hold it unless she kissed it first. So Robyn did. And then the lizard bit her. And I came outside because Robyn was screaming, and there was a lil lizard dangling from her lip. That was Anna’s fault. Additionally, she and Robyn caught a toad once and tied yarn around his neck to keep him close to home and named him Mr. Toilet.

5. She is Scooter Girl. Fear her; for you cannot approach the coolness of Scooter Girl.

Bonus: She got me “The Sound of Her Wings” for Christmas because she is JUST THAT AWESOME.

Happy happy birthday
Today’s your happy day
I hope it’s really happy
In every happy way!

That was my beautiful and moving birthday tribute to my sister. And here’s one in photos.

(I like watching Anna have her hair straightened. That is my very cool Aunt Carolyn doing the straightening, and it is a brand new extra-super-good straightener she is using.)

Edit: I just remembered the third thing I was going to say about Anna. Originally, instead of that Studio 60 thing I was going to say that Anna is a fierce warrior goddess, but then like the second before I typed it the words “warrior goddess” fell out of my head and I couldn’t remember what I had intended to say. Her auditory love for Studio 60 seems important now, so rather than swap them out, I’m just adding this as an alternate number three.

3. She is a fierce warrior goddess.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Tuesdays are now my favorite favorite day of the week, and it will be for at least the next three or four weeks. Because hooray! Heroes and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip are back! They’re back! Back in all their glory! New shows are being produced and aired on Monday nights in the States and on a Tuesday morning I can have them for my very own! Yay, yay, yay, yay!

I skipped my American literature lecture today, which just makes this particular Tuesday one hour brighter. There are three reasons for this lapse in academic perfection on my part, the most obvious one being the presence on my computer of new episodes of Heroes and Studio 60 (the former was a little disappointing and not very exciting and I have not finished watching the latter but so far it’s lovely); but then the other reason is that my alarm clock time was off by forty-five minutes so I didn’t wake up until 8:40 and I didn’t realize it until it was already past 9, which is when my lecture is; and then the other other reason is that the lecture today is on Allen Ginsberg and I just can’t be bothered with “Howl”.

(I always look up things on Wikipedia while I’m writing these blog entries–I don’t know why it always works out this way. I just looked up Allen Ginsberg to see what his exact dates were, and Wikipedia alerted me to the fact that Ginsberg, while at university, drew an “ironic swastika” on his window and “wrote a letter implying that the president of the university had no testicles”. I’m not sure where I’m going with this. I guess I wanted to keep you updated on the Ginsberg ironic swastika and testicles situation.)

I’m in such a good mood now that I’m not even going to complain about the lifts in the Albert Sloman library and how they require a whole new set of social behaviors that are very complicated and nervewracking. Instead I shall scatter flowers and sing merry tunes as I skip off to my American literature seminar where I have to give a presentation on Ezra Pound’s Canto I.

(Did you see that paragraph? That was the paragraph of buzzkill. Buzz slaughter. Ruthless buzz holocaust. I hate Ezra Pound now. Big erudite Mussolini-lover.)

(There is nothing funny about Ezra Pound. In the trivia section of his Wikipedia article, it says, “‘Pound on freedom during World War II: “There is no freedom without economic freedom.’” Ha, ha, ha, ha — oh wait. There is nothing funny about that AT ALL. In fact it is boring. In fact I just woke up from being slumped over the keyboard fast asleep because of how boring Ezra Pound is.)

Tuesdays aren’t that great really. Ultimately. Just not that exciting at the end of the day. And I didn’t read any of Ezra Pound’s poems for class today except the one I’m doing a presentation on.

Friday, January 19, 2007

The problem with school

And it’s a major one. The problem with school is that you have to go to classes. You can’t just do whatever you want all day; there are classes to be gone to. And then the problem with that is that you can’t sleep and take notes at the same time. Even if you think that half of your brain can take notes while the other half has a lil nap and rests itself, it just doesn’t work that way. Your brain starts playing little games with you to screw you up, because for some reason it doesn’t want to multitask. It wants you to select an activity and stick with it.

I was trying to get it to agree to multitask today, and it was being very uncooperative (my brain, not yours, obviously). It would all start out okay, and I’d be writing down whatever the tutor was saying, so it was all going to be, The present moment to which T.S. Eliot refers is the reading of the poem itself, and then out of nowhere my brain went, Feet. Chewed on his teeth. and I wrote down, The present moment to which T.S. Eliot refers is the feet of the poem itself teeth. I really wrote that down. That is what my notes say.

I guess my brain thinks this is a reeeeeeeeeally funny joke to play but it isn’t! Because then I have to figure out what I was going to say, and since the note-taking thing was pretty much on automatic pilot I tend to forget most of the time, and even if I don’t forget, I am using so much of my brain to do the remembering process that I never have a chance to listen to what the lady was saying then, and I’d miss a whole chunk of undoubtedly interesting and informative notes about T.S. Eliot.

And then sometimes my brain just completely falls asleep and I have little mini-dreams. Once in my literary theory class last year, I dreamed that Tammy and Sandy from Guiding Light were having a very heated argument about the relative merits of the objective and the expressive schools of criticism. (Sandy was vehement about the criterion for the poem being its ability to express the soul of the artist, but Tammy disagreed.) And today I had a really pleasant little mini-dream wherein Barack Obama won the Democratic primaries! It was so exciting! I was rejoicing very happily! and then I had to wake up and return to the simile of the catalyst.

So drop out of school, everyone, and have whole entire dreams whenever you feel like it! Yippee!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Flat 6 Tom Hollander fest

Oh yeah. We had one.

Well, actually, it was not so much a Tom Hollander fest as an unintentional Keira Knightley fest, but since Sarah doesn’t like Keira Knightley at all, that seemed not to be apt. Thus I have renamed it. We watched Pride and Prejudice, in which Tom Hollander is a very funny little Mr. Collins man (the perfect Mr. Collins, if you ask me), and then we started but were too tired to finish Pirates of the Caribbean 2, in which Tom Hollander is an evil little East India Trading Company man. Just he wait until the sepoy rebellion, he’ll get his comeuppance (that’s supposing that he ceases to be fictional, doesn’t die first, and does get deployed to India rather than the Caribbean).

It was also a momentous occasion in that Trish got to see Pride and Prejudice (with the lovely Matthew McFadyen — oh! just realized it’s another example of my liking guys with big noses) and Sarah had her first experience with microwave popcorn. And quite an experience it was. The four of us ate three packs of microwave popcorn, and I had to try and keep decent intervals between each pack so that Sarah’s head wouldn’t explode with joy because it was so delicious and popcorny and we didn’t even have to go to the cinema to get it! Which is almost more joy than we poor mortals can expect on this earth.

And now, a public safety announcement about microwave popcorn. If you are reading this, you probably already know my views, but I shall just reiterate them. The people who work in the factories that make the butter chemical for microwave popcorn get horrible lung diseases; when lab rats were exposed to this same chemical, they died within a week of horrible lung diseases. So if you eat buttered microwave popcorn, you are supporting lung disease and misery for these people, much like buying merchandise from the poor lead-poisoned factory girls in the Industrial Revolution. I never eat microwave popcorn with butter on. Mostly I don’t eat microwave popcorn at all, because that is supporting their wickedness financially, but on occasion I will indulge. I really like popcorn.

Also Jack Davenport. I used to dislike him because he had such a stick up his ass in Pirates, but in the second one he was all drunken and depraved and probably a much cooler person (except for that thing at the end); and he was such a dear in The Talented Mr. Ripley and didn’t deserve his fate. So I have decided that I do in fact like Jack Davenport. He has a posh accent, too.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

I’m supposed to be sleeping right now

because today is my day off. I get to sleep when it’s my day off. I went to bed late last night because today was my day off and I knew that I could sleep very late today. But instead I was awakened by a very loud fire alarm in the middle of a dream that I don’t remember but it may have involved cheese, and I had to go outside and stand in the cold for a half hour, all because someone in the flat above me burnt their toast and filled their flat with smoke. As if they needed toast.

Lucky for my flat, we have an insider in theirs. Flick’s room in our flat leaked and so she moved upstairs, and now we will use her to suspend their toast privileges. Their toaster will have to come down to live on our floor for a while. It may be harsh, but the lesson must be learned; and anyway it was not as harsh as sending us all down to stand in a wind tunnel in flip-flops and dressing gowns when half of us were still having merry dreams.

Now I’m going to go do something that sucks like, like, like work on my research proposal or read T.S. Eliot’s literary theory. Ugh.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Update again! Oh, but it’s so much more exciting than the last one!

Oh, but I totally can’t tell what it is! Even though it’s soooo sweet and I got all teary-eyed and fell in love with — um. Someone. My lips are sealed, sealed, sealed. Because I care about Robyn, my dearest darling little sister, and we are totally hitting up watching Friends together when I get back to the States, and I shan’t ruin everything for her. The two of us are going to have a big Friends fest (much like the one I’m having now except so much better because there will be TWO of us!) and it will be just like the old days with Felicity.

The old days with Felicity were like halcyon days. Because many many years ago, my grandmother became desperately hooked on Felicity like a crazy lady, and every time one of us got on the phone with her she would bring us up to date on everything that was happening with Felicity and Ben and Noel (they were a love triangle). And then my mother and I went to Atlanta to take care of my aunt while my grandparents went on vacation, and as luck would have it, the show was going through a very romantic and exciting epoch with Ben and Felicity drawing closer and closer to true love, so we became addicted to it also and the very last night we were there Ben did a grand gesture and Felicity loved him and they made out in the fantastic loft apartment watching a flim, and it was all closurey.

Then Robyn and I recentlyish checked out the first season of Felicity from the library, and even though it was the trashiest show of all time except maybe the O.C. which I’ve never seen (yet! but my capacity for trashy television may be endless!) we could not stop watching it. We were very in love with Noel because he had this adorable little eyebrow tic that happened every time he totally loved Felicity, and we swore to each other that we would not let the writers manipulate us into loving Ben the Jerk, but then we totally did. And we sang along with the awful theme song and treasured each moment (especially the ones with Javier). And those were the good days. For us. Maybe not the rest of the family.

And THAT is what is going to happen with Friends. I have Decided. And if Robyn objects I will nail her to her bed.

Saturday, January 13, 2007


Ross said Rachel, Ross said Rachel, Ross said Rachel!

That is all.

My flatmate is a big freaky freak and she just freaked me out like whoa

I was watching Friends, right, and my nice flatmate Sarah came in to say something, and I had paused the episode so it was just one frame of it up on the screen, and it was just a frame of Joey and Chandler standing there not doing anything to give away what was going on, just standing with their mouths open because they were talking, and she said, “Oh, is that the one where they switch over?” AND IT WAS. (They switch over apartments.) I stared at her with a freaked-out look and she said, like it was supposed to make her freaky episode-identifying talent less freaky, “I can tell from what they’re wearing.”

Which made me feel better about my shameful Friends addiction that I have right now.


Okay, so my coping mechanism these days is watching Friends. Lots and lots and lots and lots of Friends. I have a ton of work to do, including a research proposal of 1500 words that I have no idea how to do, and a nasty play to read and be clever about, and some other stuff for my new class that I haven’t even looked up online because I’ve been too busy watching Friends. And I can’t stop because Ross, you know, he has a new girlfriend who’s English but I KNOW he isn’t going to love her forever, and furthermore I know that at the end of this season, Chandler (whose fault it is I’m watching this at all, damn you Matthew Perry and Studio 60 and my flatmates for laughing at me for not knowing who he was!) and Monica, they are going to have the sex. So I can’t really stop now. Besides there are six more seasons I haven’t seen, and I’m a completist so that just wouldn’t do.

I thought I heard someone coming down the hall to knock on my door, however, and I didn’t want to admit that I was still watching Friends and had been all day today (seriously, short break to get a candy bar and wash my hair, and allllllllll the rest of the day I’ve been at it), so I fetched the book I’m supposed to be reading and started to read it. I was going to skip the introduction so that I could finish the book sooner and be back to Friends, but when I opened the book up it was at the last page of the introduction and my eyes can’t stop themselves from reading, so I read it.

Number one, the man is oversharing. I’m going to tell you his name — Morris Kaplan — so that if you ever run into him In Life, you can let him know that it is way, way not okay to talk about the fantasy echoes of his own erotic history in an introduction to a history book, even if the name of the book is Sodom on the Thames. His attachment to these figures have vacillated between desire and identification, but he’s not going to track these trajectories in detail here, since each exerted its own fascination, at least for a time. (Thank God for small mercies.)

Number two, the second-to-last sentence in the introduction is, My erotic adventures in the archives have been a source of great pleasure.

I’ll repeat that for those of you who missed it: My erotic adventures in the archives have been a source of great pleasure.


I got a reading pass to the British Library, but if this is the kind of activity that takes place in their archives, I’m having nothing to do with it! Nothing! Nothing! Nothing! Thanks a lot, Morris Kaplan, you big meanie, for spoiling my happy dream of scholarly peace at the British Library; now I’m just always going to be looking over my shoulder to make sure that you’re not having sex with the manuscripts (which by the way may not be specifically listed among the rules but you know and I know that it’s totally forbidden!). And you know what? I have Merlin Holland’s fax number, and I’m going to tell him about you!

Well, obviously I can’t read Morris Kaplan’s book anymore today. And the play I have to read for Early Modern Culture is on a high high shelf, so that’s out of the question; and I can’t do my research proposal because I haven’t read Morris Kaplan’s book yet. Really leaves me with only one option. Don’t blame me, blame Morris Kaplan.

(When I’m like the world’s leading expert on Oscar Wilde, I’m going to delete this post so it won’t be super awkward when I run into Morris Kaplan for real. Nobody give him the URL to my blog.)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The delicate art of making passwords

Passwords are tricky and uncool, and I hate it when something happens that makes me have to change my passwords. The earliest instance of this that I can remember is when Robyn figured out the password to my email account. It was “Lara”, which was the name of our second cat that we had briefly and then actually really did send to live in the country where she’d be happier but ultimately she was eaten by a coyote.

Robyn: What’s your password?
Me: I’m not telling.
Robyn: Is it Pepsi? (the dog)
Me: No.
Robyn: Is it Shadow? (the first cat)
Me: No.
Robyn: Is it Lara?

Yes, even at a young age I was a past master of dissimulation.

So I had to change it then. And then this other time I discovered that you could put passwords on Word documents, which was the greatest discovery I ever made, and I made these incredibly long passwords based on whatever my eye fell on, and each document had a different one, and they were, like, “teenagewitch” and “paperclipbox” and “auntdorisclock”, and of course I forgot them all and lost everything that was in those documents. Then I swung way back and gave all my documents the same password and it was “book”. I thought that kept things simple. Short and sweet, and the middle two letters were the same, so I couldn’t mix them up. But after a while I had to give it to someone to avoid more hassle, and then I changed it to something completely different and totally unguessable by anyone.

And LSU! What the hell! Every five days they make me change my damn password! As soon as my fingers get used to typing the new password they’ve forced me to adopt I have to switch it again. And now Essex has done the same. I had a very good password that was easy to type and used lots of different letters and numbers in strange combinations but was entirely memorable. Dem them.

Furthermore, I think “book” is a fabulous password because WHO COULD EVER GUESS THAT? Its very simplicity makes it complicated! However, I cannot use it for anything because everyone wants you to have 6 or more characters and use capitals and lower-cases and numbers and symbols, which is much too much trouble. I do not think that the shift key should have any place in the typing of passwords.

Which reminds me: Anna used to insist that it was quicker and easier to do Caps Lock and then un-Caps Lock every time she had to type a capital letter. I explained to her that the Shift key was ultimately better, but she did not believe me and stubbornly persisted. For all I know she is still engaging in this errant activity today.

And passwords are a nuisance. Hackers, please desist. You are causing everyone unnecessary trouble.

Monday, January 8, 2007

One of those cruel jokes the universe plays on you sometimes

I don’t know if any of you ever read the awful book Bridge to Terabithia which was incredibly awful with all the awfulness. I’m going to go ahead and ruin the ending for you so that you won’t have to read it. The free-spirited running girl dies, and the running boy comes to terms with it in his own way. Okay. Save yourself the time and aggravation of ever reading it, or giving it to your children to read, or buying a copy to send to underprivileged children in inner-city schools or Africa and East Asia (if you are anxious about this, buy something good instead; I recommend Mr. Popper’s Penguins, which has a free-spirited penguin that does not die. Actually, several!). I hated that damn book, and now they’re making a damn movie of it with that little girl from Because of Winn-Dixie (who is cute and I have nothing against her whatsoever but I’m sure she could further her acting career in some other way than propagating the idea that this book is in any way good).

I went to this movie trailers website because I heard a rumor that there was like a clip of some footage from the 3rd Pirates of the Caribbean film, right, and there was a link! A link to footage of pirates! I was all excited because I’ve had a very nice day - my parents and younger sister and I all went to campus to be shown around, and we had nice fish and chips and I knew the guy at the shop was Greek even before he told us his daughter was called Constantina and my father and sisters and I talked about all the times he got hit on by dudes in his youth and all the exciting things he did as a youth like blow out his motor-scooter tires in Ville Platte and get given sausages and I learnt an amazingly interesting new fact - and I thought that footage from this probably very life-affirming movie would be just the perfect end to it. So I clicked the link, and DO YOU KNOW what happened?

That’s RIGHT! It popped up and it was all, Do you want to use Quicktime or Windows Media Player to view this exclusive footage from Bridge to Terabithia? and I was all, Neither! Get off my screen, you Satan, and give me my pirates!

Whatever. I’m going to bed. The film industry is dead to me.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Me = Pioneer; or, I never knew John Donne could be so sexy

I was at the National Portrait Gallery today, and my mum and I were going through the Elizabethan-times room, walking down one side of the room looking at all these people we sort of knew (like Nicholas Bacon. I mean, surely I’ve heard of him before and everything, but my brain totally blanked out and I had no idea where), and I glanced over at the opposite wall and saw this picture that looked very cool, all shadowy and mysterious. And I was like, Oo, a picture I don’t remember that looks very spiffy! Can’t wait to see!

And do you know, it was John Donne, and it was a brand new picture. By which I mean that everyone already knew about it and it was even inside of Anna’s Norton Anthology of English Literature, but I had never seen it before. The last time I was at the National Portrait Gallery, they TOTALLY didn’t have that picture! Theoretically I suppose I was aware that the National Portrait Gallery must acquire more things from time to time, but I guess I assumed that all the Famous Pictures in the world had already settled, and the National Portrait Gallery wouldn’t get anything old but only new things like pictures of Christian Bale and Prince William’s girlfriend and such.

I totally felt like a tremendous literary-portraity-ground-breaking pioneer person! I discovered a brand new painting of John Donne, everyone! And it is weirdly attractive. I don’t know how much of this is due to the fact that I know it’s John Donne and I admire his writing a lot, but I’m already drafting an email to the National Portrait Gallery to get them to start making prints of it so I can buy one and hang it up on my wall. This is what I have so far:

Darling darling National Portrait Gallery,

Please make a print of that sexy new picture of John Donne that you have so I can buy one and hang it up on my wall. I really deserve it because I am a lovely person and furthermore I donated five pounds to you when I visted last July, and I also purchased several items from your gift shop. Thank you.

I think that they cannot fail to see the rectitude of my arguments and immediately begin making prints of various sizes for my viewing pleasure (and, she said righteously, that of the nation. of all nations!). They could make profit! People never knew how alluring John Donne could be when set in a black background and given a caption about girls and such.

And a Muppet kissed me!

Friday, January 5, 2007

This bookstore I went to in Colchester where I wanted to steal these books

One time I went to this bookstore in Colchester and I wanted to steal these books. Because they were hardback first editions of Emily of New Moon and Emily Climbs, which are the books by the author of Anne of Green Gables that are better than Anne of Green Gables, and my mum and I love them so very very much, and I wanted to buy them but I could not afford them that week because they were fifteen pounds each which I did not have room for in my budget. And I wanted to steal them. I had a vision of me creeping out of the bookshop with the books under my sweater and when the lady noticed and raised a fuss I would shriek LEAVE ME ALONE THEY ARE FOR MY MOMMY!

And because I did not want to embarrass myself by calling my mother mommy, I did not steal the books. (But I would have liked to.)

The moral of this story is, have visions in which you say “mum” or “mother” and you will not be embarrassed out of taking books you can’t afford but really want and will give a better home to than the bookshop can.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

You mean all matinees do not occur on Wednesdays?

You know what I did? Like a loser tourist full of ignorance? I made my plans for today based on the assumption that every show on the West End had matinees on Wednesday because Wicked’s matinees were on Wednesday, and that seemed like a really sensible day to have a matinee, it being the middle of the week and there being another matinee on Saturday (and everyone has matinees on Saturday). Oh, and I also assumed that every show on the West End sold day seats, where you can pay 20 quid or so and sit in the front front row and be spit upon whenever the chorus members lose control of their saliva.

(But I haven’t been spit upon yet.)

Both of these things were wrong. Most tragically they were wrong regarding the show I really really want to see while I’m here, Evita, which I want to see because it has Philip Quast inside it, and his magnificence as a vocalist is unrivaled by virtually anyone else I know. Although the Enjolras on the OLC of Les Mis is very good indeed. I get chills when I listen to him sing Javert. I don’t get chills from people’s voices very often (only him and Idina Menzel), and you know how fantastic it would be to hear both of the chills-producing vocalists while I am here?

Very fantastic. Right.

But anyway, they don’t have day seats, and they don’t have Wednesday matinees, dem them. Which means that I have to go down to Leicester Square and try to get discounted tickets, or else pay full price for the tickets, which I will do but I’d rather not. It also means I didn’t get to see it today. I shall see it tomorrow.

It will now be necessary for all shows on London’s West End to regulate their schedules so as not to confuse me. To give you an idea of the craziness and irregularity that goes on, Avenue Q just lost its mind entirely and gives Friday and Saturday matinevening shows at 5:45 and 8:45. I have no idea what that’s about. So this change is really for the West End’s own good. Do it now, theatres, and then when I am a fierce reviewer with a poison pen I won’t have a grudge against every show that comes to you. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry. Remember how much more fun I will have writing bad reviews than good ones. I’ll say you have bad acoustics and gaudy ornamentation. I will. Don’t make me.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Oh! New Year’s Resolutions!

Okay, here are mine.

1) World peace. You don’t have to be a beauty pageant contestant to work towards this one! Opposing me is, let’s see, everyone in power throughout the entire rest of the world. But I will, as advised by a poster in my sixth-grade math teacher’s classroom, shoot for the moon, for I know that even if I miss I fall among the stars. Or, in this case, I fall into nuclear winter and death for everyone.

2) Publish a best-seller. Easy peasy. If Ann Coulter can do it– I won’t continue this thought. I don’t want anyone to associate me with her, mainly because it’s already tricky telling us apart, us both being tall (she is only five inches taller than I am) and blonde. The big clue to help you out on this one is that I’m not an evil bitch, and my hair is naturally this color.

3) Give up eating Brussels sprouts. Okay, I stole this one from someone else I read about sometime who gave up Brussels sprouts for Lent, but I just now went on Wikipedia to find out some nutritional information about Brussels sprouts (last time I looked up a vegetable (asparagus) on Wikipedia it told me they were like the healthiest vegetable ever and I felt really virtuous for eating two entire packs of them. That really has nothing to do with anything but I like to brag when I eat healthy foods of my own free will.). I was planning to make fun of Brussels sprouts for only having like 80% of your daily Vitamin A requirements in a serving or whatever it turned out to be, but you know what I found out? I found out that the standing record for speed eating Brussels sprouts is 44 in a minute. So I’m changing my resolution to beating the record for speed eating of Brussels sprouts. 44 a minute my ass. (See what a fount of wisdom Wikipedia is? The way, the truth, and the light, verily I say unto ye.)

In case you’re about to be all, It’s font of wisdom!, you are wrong. And in case now you’re about to be all, Anyone who said that it was font of wisdom would be so stupid and wrong!, you are also wrong. The OED will back me up on this (though not with a lot of clarity; it’s sort of roundabout, like they don’t want to commit to it, but I looked at it for a good long while a few weeks back, and I felt pretty certain about what they were getting at). Which leads me to my fourth resolution:

4) Have perfect grammar and diction at all times. No problem. I’m an English major. (This is, of course, my safety resolution.)

The reason my mother came to London

It was for the blue whale at the Natural History Museum, which luckily for her is just down the street from us (sort of. several streets. it’s complicated). The blue whale, you see, is the largest animal that has ever existed on earth ever, including the dinosaurs, and (my mother always pauses for this like it’s a punchline we’re waiting for rather than a scientific fact of which everyone is well aware) THEY ARE STILL WITH US. And then she pauses again. And sometimes she says WOW.

Anyway there’s a huge taxidermified blue whale at the Natural History Museum, and I think my mother wants to take every individual person that she knows down to see it so she can tell them this largest animal information and watch them be bowled over by it because (she says) you would have to be DEAD not to be impressed by the blue whale. The translation of this, I think, is that if you are not impressed by the blue whale in her presence, she will kill you and then you will be dead and unable to disprove her theory.

Also, people in London smoke a lot and bar poor Mum from a lot of pubs (ho, ho, ho, they BAR her from PUBS (I am only making this pun, Mother, because I am talking about you and you love puns and I always try to accommodate you)), so she has to find merriment where she can, and the blue whale is definitely the focus of her joy. I’m like, Hey Mum, want to get day seats to a play of your choice? and she’s like, Nah, I’d rather go see the blue whale. But thanks!

Basically, we didn’t need to come to London; we could have just gotten her a blue whale and put it in the backyard. Cause that would have been way easier.