Tuesday, December 21, 2004

the living elvis

It's been a few weeks of Elvis mania for me. Well, not continuous, but...during the Thanksgiving ride to visit the p's I took with me the newest Elvis record, The Delivery Man. Good record, his best pure rock record in a while. Then two weeks ago, for the ride to work I grabbed Armed Forces and This Year's Model. I spent a solid week with Armed Forces. "Oliver's Army" and "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding" hit me in ways they haven't for a long time, mainly because of the Duhbya, Iraq and the general political tenor of the last 12 years. How can you not feel it inside when you hear Elvis ask "where are the strong, and who are the trusted"? I even came up with new lyrics for "Oliver's Army", now "DUH-bya's Army".

Then this past Sunday, while at B's house after the pose-tech running clinic, he put on the Austin City Limits show with Elvis and the Imposters (Bruce and Steve from the Attractions with Davey Faragher (from Cracker) on bass. I saw this line-up here a couple of years ago and got-damn were they good. And on ACL they were good. Excellent professional musicians playing with fire and piss and vinegar.

And speaking of 80s new waver icons? While getting my hair cut the salon folks were playing the Cure's greatest hits thing. Talk about college flashbacks.

playing catchup going upfield

Has it been that long since I've indulged my narcissim? What's going on? Oh man...lots. More adventures in adult dating (see later entry), too much sloth, just enough work to get by, curing an obsession or two that got in the way of work...

Reading tvdetective's rave about the Wrens makes me realize that I want to be in a band again (and not just because I want hipsterette bloggers to write virtual odes to freaking my shit). I miss making music. I do creative stuff now, but for me it's a more tortuous process to do academic writing than it is to strap on the bass and groove away. And the photography stuff is very amateur and I'm not certain I want it to be more than that, despite that I know I have a decent enough sense of composition and can find a good shit.

But with music it's a time thing. I don't have the kind of time I'd like to devote to it. I also don't know that I'd find a situation like I had back where I came from. I've only played in three serious bands and another thing as a semi-acoustic duo. In each case I played with very good to excellent songwriters. I'm sure there are good writers here, but where? And would they want a me who can only give a bit of time each week, who doesn't care anymore about "making it"? I've done the big record deal, done the indie thing, had musical if not financial success.

And soccer, what about soccer? My knees tell me that my days may be numbered, even inthe rec league thing I'm in now. The level of competition is high, but that's keeping my game sharp. I'm also learning a new position, sweeper. After years of outside mid and outside defense, now it's to the middle, cleaning up when everyone else is busy. Yelling for when to move up for offsides traps, encouraging and cajoling. But it's frustrating because thanks to the knee surgery and layoff, I've lost some touch on the ball and a step or two of speed. I've been responsible for goals against as guys have blown by me when I over-commit to the tackle. But I had a couple of good games as well. Solid, where the middle of the defensive line held it together. But I feel I'm on borrowed time now. Maybe the pose-tech running will as advertised help prolong the life of my legs. But got-damn if it ain't fun to get out there every week and run around for 90 minutes. Pain and frustration notwithstanding.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

west winging it

I have to confess this as a guilty pleasure, The West Wing. It's the perfect show for the political junkie who appreciates well-written dramatic performance. Trouble is, of course, that sans Sorkin the show has suffered. Last season out and out sucked. John Wells has done to TWW what he did to ER, which is to say he's made it an overwrought, melodramatic passion play every single week. Even some of the casting is spilling over, with Mary Macormack and Alan Alda (each did ER stints) on TWW now. What next, Anthony Edwards?

Gone is the Capra-esque quality of the first few seasons when Aaron Sorkin was writing everything. Every single episode had multiple story arcs that played off each other even if they weren't related. Not every episode was "a very special West Wing" {jebuschripes, an *asteroid* next week?!?}. Some were simple stories that did nothing more than present the White House as a place where hope triumped over despair, even when things were desparate. He wrote a White House and government that you wished existed, a pefect antidote to what we have in reality.

There have been good moments so far this season, but invariably Wells succumbs to the cheesy (they're ramping up the MS and again, an effing asteroid) instead of staying with the more deftly and deeply compelling (the interplay between the Dem and GOP challengers for president that gave tonight some promise). I like the show, but it's time they ended it.

respectfully depressing

So there I am in the gym (student fitness center at my university..hey it's cheap {$5/pay period}). Mostly populated by undergrads, smattering of grad students and faculty work out there as well...a guy is just handed a set of 20lb weights and I see a pair of 15s on the floor at his feet. Exchange follows...

me: are you done with the 15s?
guy: yes
me: thanks
guy: no problem, sir.
{he says this as i'm bending over to get the weights. i stop amid bend and cast him a piecing glance, with eyebrows raised]
me : {very dry, flat tone} my dad is sir.
guy: sorry

Seriously, I look that old? Gotdamn. I'm only 29 (or so).

Also? I'm making cookies for my class tomorrow. Little tradition I have, making oatmeal choco-chip cookies the last day of class. The first step in making them sounds dirtier than it is..."creaming the butter".

Also also? Tomorrow night our Dean is hosting a holiday soiree. Open bar and stuff. Note to self -- do not get too shitfaced and try to dirty dance with the dean. Any other office party advice is welcome.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

the list for 2004...update

First, the good. My first published solo-authored journal article. Not in a top-tier journal in my field, but still peer-reviewed by a good editorial board. And it's an SSI journal, so I get citation points. Of course they got my name wrong on the table of contents page (copy editor did it, for some unknown reason), but still, it's there. In print.

Ok then, among the bad for 2004?

Cars and driving. I've come to realize that I don't like cars or driving all that much. Well, to be specific, I don't like driving to work as the only option, I don't like the annoyance that comes with keeping a car -- the wear-and-tear and constant maintenance, high cost of insurance and all.

What's done me in on this is 3 years of living in a parking-deficient town and especially the last six months which have featured two hit-and-runs on my car (the trial for one happens on Thursday) and two parking tickets that shouldn't have been issued but I had to deal with nonetheless (go to the parking office downtown and apply for a hearing).

Seriously, I want a job where I can walk, bike or take a short pubic transport ride to the office. I want to use the car very sparingly.

Friday, December 03, 2004

from the uncool files

How is it possible that nobody I know can or wants to go to the Magnetic Fields show this Tuesday? Well, there are two people, but one is supposed to be at the same meeting I'd like to blow off to go, and I haven't been able to get in touch with the other. Still, that my pool of friends who'd want to go is that small...gah.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

cuba libre

No, it's not about rum and coke...

So my friend N has a friend E, a curator and artist. E is curating a show by a Cuban artist. The powers that be at E's institution are now giving her some grief because they are either getting grief or afraid they will get grief from the Cuban politico mafia that runs things around here. To which I say to the hard-liners around here...

Shut the fuck up already. Seriously...shut the fuck up and ge over it.

We know that culture and commerce break down barriers. It's worked in Vietnam and it's worked in China. Things aren't perfect in either place, but they're arguably better than in Cuba. Yes, I know that you have friends and relatives who have suffered at the hands of Castro.

But guess what? Your friends and relatives aren't the only ones to have ever suffered from political repression. Your situation isn't special. What makes you special, different from Chinese and Vietnamese in this country, is that you're enough of a concentrated voting bloc that you weild disproportionate power. You beg for hard-line policies that just hurt those friends and relatives in Cuba but not in jail, people trying to work hard. Your reactionary and archaic political philosophy hurts people living in the US who want to help their friends and relatives in Cuba. You keep them from sending money, visiting...you claim that such revenue only props up Castro.

But guess what? That old S.O.B. will be around for a while. Like the miserable curmudgeonly old great-uncle who is an unpleasant jerk, he won't die. He'll be around for a while, and every day he breathes you fret and worry and sit and spin. And your hatred and irrational behavior just hurts your own countrymen.

I have Chinese friends who happily return to visit, who send money, who host their families here. They know that this makes better the lives of their China friends and relatives sill in China. The situation there is no less repressive than in Cuba.

All E wants to do is to stimulate dialogue. That's the point of art in situations like this -- to get people thinking and talking. Arts and sport are two effective means of transcending the bullshit pettiness of the modern nation-state political litterbox.

Commerce and culture break down barriers. We know this, and it's time to bring Cuba into the fold. Force change by giving people there a taste of the outside world. We know it works, even if the change takes a while, and there are Tiannemen-like hiccups along the way.

So please, shut up and get over it.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

the list for 2004...

the good, the bad, the ugly, the fugly, the best of times, the worst of times, the shameful, the blameful, moments of beauty, moments of bliss, moments of hit, moments of miss, moments i'll want to relive, moments i'll never live down

I don't have any entries right now, just saying this may be how I organize it. And I'll take suggestions, both on entries and categories.

Actually, I do have the first entry...

moments of beauty? the falls at iguazu --

art basel

Now in it's third year in Miami Beach, the Art Basel show opens this week. Well, opened tonight, and thanks to my friend N I got passes to the pre-grand opening opening. Not VIP tix to where the free booze was, but free tix nonetheless. Being the pre-opening night meant less crowds, a more serious crowd (as in people looking to buy stuff, and in fact buying stuff already) and more fun people watching opportunities. And the tickets were free.

I'd wanted to post a bit about some of the art, but there are 175 galleries showing tons of work, and after an hour or so it gets overwhelming. It's really hard to remember much. It's not really a venue for superstar artists, but there were a few Calder mobiles, a Warhol or two and a few Lichetensteins. N's friend E had one piece up, a photo series of stack of letters sent by her father in Cuba to her mother in Miami. There was supposed to be a voice installation as well, with E's friend JC reading from the letters. Sadly, the gallery owner hadn't put it up yet.

Some work that did stick out was a collection of landscapes using denim as the media. Yes, cut up pieces of denim, in all colors, substituting for paints. And the artist, So Young Choi, was able to get perspective, point, geometric pattern...pretty damned inventive. The best of the lot sold already, but there were more available, and one at only $2,000.

Go to,:

...select "domestic artists" and "Chio, So Young"

This also pretty much marks the beginning of the tourist season. From here on out it's heavier traffic on the causeways, events almost every weekend...with a better economy it should be a busy season. The relative peace and quiet of summer is over. Bring on the snowbirds.

---update (11am, Thursday, 12/02)

Apparently, Tobey Maguire and Alex Rodriguez were there. Who knew?