But happy birthday, Annie Hall! Slaying institutional sexism and selective mutism with a single intellectual barb, AH is a happening gal about Belfast. She didn’t get her pumpkin pie this year, but she’s taking it and the questions surrounding the uses of autobiography in stride, because even when she’d rather be devouring desserts of the vegan-creamy vegetable variety, she is vorarciously consuming cutting edge theory of all makes and models. Raise you guiness, AH is in da house.

Did I also mention, she rows? She rows in icy, sleety, butt-ass cold rivers? Cause she does, but you probably aren’t surprised by that, b/c she is just that cool.

Tofurkey anyone?

November 21, 2006

Okay, having read this story of Harold and Maude (heritage bred, organically fed turkeys raised, slaughtered and eaten by the writer, Novella Carpenter) I am feeling a little queasy and a little teary-eyed. I should have known it was going to be one of those nights when that Maria Sharapova camera commercial with all the tennis balls following her down the street came on as I was treadmilling only made me think “Oh no! All those poor tennis balls are getting run over by a Mack truck just because they wanted to smile at Maria Sharapova.” But of course, I had to go and read the story anyway. I’ve got a pizza in the oven but I’m a little off my feed.  Maybe I’ll just stick to the red wine tonight. The grape may fall but the vine lives on, whereas Harold and Maude are gone forever.

Could I be a real vegetarian? I’m not sure. I tried it once, and while I managed to stay away from beef and chicken for a solid six years or so,  I never did give up the salmon. Now that I’ve been back on the beef for a couple of years in the wake of persistent iron deficiency anemia, it’s hard to imagine going completely back. Just for the sheer convenience of being able to eat whatever you happened to be served while visiting or traveling, it’s a big life simplifier. And I still think my meat consumption is fairly low, usually once a week or so. I’ve started forcing myself to buy meat at Whole Foods, preferably the organic or free range kind. The expense makes me think twice and also helps me savor it all the more. I’m also trying to make a point of learning to cook a few more dishes that are tasty and filling and veggie oriented. Vegetarianism gets boring and unhealthy if all it means to you is rice and spaghetti with red sauce, but maybe if I snazz it up a bit I’ll get all the health benefits, economic benefits, and not feel badly when I order a burger out or let Daniel make me steak au poivre. That’s kind of the direction I’m heading without any big dogmatic switch. I know this doesn’t help Harold, Maude, or the thousands of sentient turkeys that live much shorter and more brutal lives. Such uplifting thoughts for the holidays, I know.  Hey, Alice Munro has a short story about turkey killing. It’s called “The Turkey Season” and it’s in Moons of Jupiter. I think I’ll go read that and eat my pizza and think about Harold and Maude tomorrow.

Brr!

November 21, 2006

It’s coming together–the end of the semester, the arrival of holidays, and the freezing (by Florida standards) cold. It was 48 degrees when I woke up this morning, which meant it was time to bust out a turtleneck and my trusty Brasil soccer jacket, bought in the Exeter discount sports store for 10 quid back in the day. I know I should take it off while I’m inside, but it’s so cold in the library that I’m taking the past of least resistance and heating up little by little.

What am I doing these days? Oh, you know it already, but things are looking up. I knocked one class off the schedule this past Saturday. My partner and I did our final presentation and turned in our final project, so LIS 6630: Information Sources for Science and Technology is pretty much dead to me. In this case, it paid to sign up to go first. The rest of the poor schmo’s have to wait until December 9th to feel the relief of having 50% of their grade be determined by a final presentation. Now the decks are starting to clear for a mad frenzy of poetry, which has sadly gotten pushed to the bottom of the pile too often in favor of more blatantly demanding classes, such as Melville and Creative Nonfiction. Next semester I plan to remedy this by only taking one workshop, so I’m not too worried if my output was low this semester. What it lacked in poems it has made up for in nonfiction, of the creative and critical varieties. If you are interested, the agenda for this long weekend (the homework agenda at least, the eating agenda is much more expansive) consists of :

-Read Maxine Hong Kingston’s Woman Warrior (CNF)

-Read VW’s A Room of One’s Own and write up a presentation for CNF on Monday

-do final Melville take home exam ahead of schedule (would be due Tuesday, want it done by Sunday)

-write at least one poem, preferably two

 It sounds so manageable when I say it like that! What am I complaining about anyway?

Other agenda items:

-See Casino Royale

That, plus the aforementioned eating, should be enough to keep me occupied.

Awake

November 17, 2006

Maybe those iron supplements have been kicking in this week, because I’ve been working the go to bed after midnight and get up before seven routine pretty successfully. I know that’s actually a decent amount of sleep, so I’m not trying to call attention to my virtuous sleep deprivation, just the fact that a couple of months ago a normal amount sleep was leading to painful days of trying to stay awake rather than productive days of putting a semester’s worth of class work into tidy, term paper/ presentation packages. This week I actually felt surges of energy in mid-day and late evening, allowing me to push ahead and read things a second time before showing up to class. Either it’s the iron or the running, which I’ve been much more diligent about since the weather got cooler. At least, it teased us with coolness. After a couple of deliciously crisp days, the 80 degree humidity fest came back, and stayed back until late last night. But this morning as I tore myself out of bed (where I had let myself linger due to the fact that I don’t have to work today, and an extra hour never hurt anyone) and chased down Daniel before he drove away with our one and only Large State University parking pass (just in case I want to stop by to work on the final project presentation due tomorrow morning), I found out that the chill is back, and it woke me up. I loved it. I came back in the house and made the bed, because there is no way I am getting back in it when there is such a beautiful day going on out there. I just want to be awake and know that it’s breezy and cool and perfect outside. If I’m lucky, this might help me get some poetic thoughts into my head and some will to powerpoint. Well, whether it’s the iron, the running, the dream of sweater weather, or the surprisingly happy-making task of churning out more consecutive pages than I think I’ve had had to write in a three week period before, I’ve felt more awake this past couple of weeks than I have in a long time. I heard a personal vignette on NPR last weekend about a mom who started swimming in the ocean every morning, and she described the moment right after leaving the water as feeling like her brain had just been flossed. That’s what I’m feeling like, and I want the feeling to continue.

Pretty much totally agree

November 17, 2006

Salon has decided to do its own Sexiest Men Alive round-up, and I have to say they’ve done a decent job. Especially w/ their number one pick. Must say I’ve been thinking that for quite a while. It occurs to me that some readers of this blog will say, “Yawn, Liz, not interested,” but I think it’s fun nonetheless. (Not to mention a nice short post to break my weeklong homework induced fast. I know, I keep blaming it on the homework. In truth, there are indeed spare moments in which I could have been blogging. I’ve just hit that point in the semester where, after churning through 50 pages of the densest Melville novel yet, planning a final presentation, notating some Browning, and making a few scribbles of my own, it’s time to put down the laptop and save my brain cells for trying to understand stuff like this. )

Okay, it’s not on the NYT or CNN yet, but MSNBC is at this moment reporting that the AP is calling Viriginia for Webb and the Democrats, which truly makes our federal legislative map blue all over. Bonus!  So an hour ago, life was damn good. Now, it’s really f^&*ing damn good.

But let’s rewind a day. Yesterday, I was firmly in the moody to depressed column, as I think after 2000 and 2004 I have permanent election day trauma. High hopes have consistently been painfully dashed, so this year I was playing it safe with a healthy outlook of paranoia and confirmed pessimism. I didn’t watch any returns, I didn’t read those hope-mongering Salon writers, and my blood pressure only allowed me to watch a snippet of the Comedy Central Midtacular. Then I went to bed, and D stayed up to do his homework. (This has become something of a Tuesday night tradition. D procrastinates all weekend and pulls an all-nighter the day before Cost Accounting. Trouble is we’re not in college anymore, and that all-nighter inevitably falls between two all-dayers, such as gainful employment typically requires.) When I woke up at 4am, D was still doing homework, and even though I was way out of it, I still had the presence of mind to think 1) he probably knows most of the election results and 2) I don’t want to know so 3) I better not ask. I went back to sleep in not quite blissful ignorance, but ignorance nonetheless. When I woke up this morning,  D informed me that he was calling in sick and rolled back over, so it was just me and my bran flakes in front of the laptop, cautiously peering at the loading Salon page… what? what? okay, okay… yup, that’s good news. It’s good news. It’s good news! Whoah! And Nancy Pelosi is gonna be speaker! Suddenly, I was glad to be awake. And unlike recent years past, as the day went on the news just kept getting better and better. What a feeling. Yesterday, crying over my breakfast about Ken Mehlman’s comment on CNN that “we have missile defense if we have a nuclear attack” (which went, UNCHALLENGED by Soledad O’Brien, who took all of five seconds to jump down Howard Dean’s throat for merely straying away from the topic of her question… let’s see what’s worse… implying that the country is protected from North Korea’s nukes without any diplomatic effort or making sure to hit your talking points on election day? Oh yeah, that second one is WAY WORSE. Arrrrgh!), today smiling. Making sure to grab some U2 before getting in the car to go to work. Enjoying the cooler weather.

Now let’s rewind a week. I had just turned in an essay to creative nonfiction that I was iffy about and a take-home exam on everyone’s favorite enormous aquatic mammalian (do you like how I didn’t say Moby Dick?) which I was also iffy about. The term paper on the same large white topic was still largely left to be written, and I wasn’t even sure I liked my thesis statement. Well, I turned it in yesterday and got the grade back today, and the same way that I am not worrying about the myriad ways the Dems can screw up the next two years for a day, I am not going to spend today berating myself for setting my sights too low and ending up at Large 3rd Tier State University. It’s the second A+ in one week, and I’m gonna take it, ’cause at least the prof backed it up with some serious comments that show he actually read the paper. And I did work for it, just as hard as I worked when I feared for my academic life at a school well-known for its English Department. No matter what the grades, I’ve just got to keep meeting my own standards. That’s how I’ll know I’m doing what I should be.

Oh my, what is this I see? A freak episode of the OC on Wednesay? Guess I’ll have to save those musings on how this November is different from last November for another post. Ohmigod! Summer doesn’t shave her legs anymore.

4 days, 40 pages

November 1, 2006

That’s what I’ve been doing instead of blogging these past few days, and unlike Snickerdoodle, I’m not even participating in National Novel Writing Month. (With the good money being spent on my behalf to try and get me an education or two, I figured I better resist the urge to sign up for one more Xtreme Writing Event. People are fairly sympathetic when you tell them, gosh, I’ve got a paper due or gosh, I’ve got to write about the time I had the chickenpox for Creative Nonfiction, but if I were to add, on top of that, gosh, I’ve got to churn out a couple thousand words for a speed written novel that I don’t even plan on re-reading myself, I might start getting funny looks. Everyone who knows me has already gotten sick of hearing the words “Moby Dick” come out of my mouth jsut when they were starting to talk about something interesting, although I do try to mix it up and sometimes say “white whale” instead. But this is not to say anything against National Novel Writing Month. You should do it. I did it last year. It’s a blast. It starts today so you aren’t even behind. And I am just kidding about the chickenpox part.) I won’t bore you with an inventory of what needed to get turned in early this week, but I will say that both of my master’s degrees in progress have started catching up with me.

Onward to more exciting topics. Friday Night Lights had a special showing in Studio 60’s time slot this week, which is a little perplexing as apparently that show hasn’t been getting such great ratings either. Is slotting one failing new show into another failing new show’s spot a novel method of killing two shows at the same time? Of course, neither of these shows really deserves to fail, even if I will admit to being as perplexed about whether or not to like Studio 60 as much as the next Matthew Perry loving, Matthew Perry’s ficitional flame hating, and Aaron Sorkin (in this context) on the fencing viewer. Enough with that, let’s get to show that really really doesn’t deserve to fail, yes I mean the football one. The characters are finely nuanced and well-portrayed. I deep and truly heart Kyle Chandler as the head coach who you can never quite be sure whether or not to trust. Will he do the right thing for his team, or will he get sucked into the winning is everything mentality of the desperate little town? I heart the actress who plays his wife, taking the job of guidance counselor without asking her husband if it was okay that she be the one to pull players from the team when their grades get too low. I will cry if the show doesn’t last long enough to show me the newly promoted second string quarteback getting up the nerve to ask the smart-mouthed coach’s daughter out. (She’s blonde and she quotes Melville- heartage.) I love that this same quarterback, with the hopes of Dillon riding on his arm, has to go home every night and make sure his senile grandmother takes her pills and eats. I love that he realizes that believing in himself and his ability to be a game-winning athlete is requires major emotional risk and that he still wants to, even if his dad in Iraq tries to give him the speech about all that matters is if you try. I can’t think of a single clunker in the bunch. Even the goody two shoes head cheerleader girlfriend of the ex-first string quarter back is showing some compelling signs of deep screwed up-ness these days. I know it’s going to be a heartbreaker either way. Cancellation means we’ll lose the Panthers in midseason, but if we get to keep them it probably won’t be a happy ending either. Things don’t end well in the book or the movie, so I am bracing myself for some seriously wrong choices to be made by all the characters. But wouldn’t it be nice to have a show on television that shows people making the wrong choices when it counts and failing when they try their hardest AND waking up the next day to keep going through the same mundane drudgery we all recognize? I have a feeling that’s what this show could be, so once again, please pretty please watch it!

In the giddy haze of football and V Mars, I had completely forgotten that tomorrow marks the return of the star player in last year’s television line-up, The OC! As a matter of fact, Salon today has an article discussing both The OC and V Mars as television shows that are making the transition from high school to college. It talks a lot about how Summer started stealing the show last season and is stepping into spotlight as female lead now that you know who is dead and bured. To which I say, yay! Summer was pretty much the best part of all of last season, with Seth a close second. Except for that unrealistic pot smoking phase. The article does note, that the OC is probably in the last stages of its natural lifecycle, which is fine because most of its leads (at least the deserving ones) seem to have a shot at a decent movie career so we’ll still see them around. This is opposed to its view V Mars’s potential… well I won’t say, it hurts too much… but if you have time after watching FNL… oh fine, if you must, my inner guidance counselor says you can substitute FNL 100 for V Mars 300 and that will be fine. Because I concur with the writer of the article, it is not V Mars’s time to go.