Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Soundtrack for the Real World

Slowly, slowly Fortress Nightingale creeps its way into the present-day. Having got a dishwasher and microwave in the past couple of years, I have yet to experience cable tv and swiffer. But my DSL connection has arrived majestically to make my meaningless existence a little more... meaningless. To the end of the internet and beyond!

jon stewart is running a pretty tight race with conan for coolest-guy-ever-i-want-to-be-friends-in-a-nonobsessive-way race. actually he probably beats him because he's all political and yknow, the world is all important like that. (polite bow to already-dust-gathering political science degree)

the morning news awards for online excellence.

Experience the sexcellence (i think that's 3 posts in a row now) that is the fiery furnaces. Two tracks from the future album Blueberry Boat found at this wonderfully titled blog and an article on the sibs from the guardian.

The Siren Festival adds more to the hot lineup. Trail of Dead, Mission of Burma, Electric Six, Vue, The Thermals, Death Cab, Blonde Redhead, HarMar, TVOTR, Constantines, Fiery Furnaces, The Fever, The Ponys, Your Enemies Friends. If I were creative and even more bored, I'd try to string these all into some ridiculous sentence.

Somebody please explain this to me. I'm just so bewildered. First I was amused. And then moved onto pity. Then scowled because maybe this person is getting paid tons of money. But does it even work that way? Why? WHY WHY? Bewilderment.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

linkstastic!

I tried to do something with "sexcellent" and "links" but none of the combinations had that sexy and excellent ring to it. Sexcellinks? That sounds dumb.

Anyway, here's a list of links to peruse at your leisure. You can thank my utterly in-active day, spent in bed, under meds, and in front of the computer. I can hear my butt growing fat. I'm really gonna start running. Really. Like, in a couple of days.

Read up on Rufus Wainwright. Apparently, "arrogance and Elton John" saves lives.

Julia Stiles can act?? in a David Mamet play no less! Well shiver me timbers..

For some reason, journalists cannot refrain from punning on the Pixies. I guess they have to be entertained somehow. On the absence of reason for Pixies reunion: Piqued by the Pixies .

I know I do go on about how I envy the ridiculously charming and witty and loving mother-daughter relationship on Gilmore Girls, but this is too much. Cool parents??? Creeps me out, man. What's going to happen to art and literature?!?! The teenage angst years are integral fodder!! What is this well-adjusted stuff. Notice how they didn't mention immigrant/minority families and the generational divides. I'll just thank my mum & da for that. Now I have creative material fodder. Mwahahahahah. (Did I mention I really need to move out of the house or go nuts??)

American Girl Cafe is, like, the hottest place in town for girls and dolls (no mention of guys and their transformers and powerwheels). For $23 a person, you can get a pretty fine-sounding multi-course meal for your little one and her American Girl doll. (They make food for the doll. What happens to that? Is it just smushed over their faces? Can I have some? For free?) I used to want one of these dolls when I was little, cuz they had the coolest accessories and furniture. Furniture!! Everything is cooler when it's small-size! This is also the 2nd article I've read today that included the term "tween." That just drives me to drink.

The American Girl dolls are all about diversity. But maybe they're not doing too good a job? "There are two Asian dolls that are supposed to look like us," said Megan Yee, 14, of Scarsdale, N.Y., gesturing to herself and her sister, Erin, 12. "But they don't." It's a tough lesson girls, but that's just life now isn't it?

woolf and bed-ridden

cover "Why did you get sick?" my father asks me irritably, after spending the afternoon doing some kind of strenuous (for him) work outside on the lawn so that it looks exactly the same. What kind of question is that? My mother dismisses me with a "pfft, it's just allergies, where's your high-paying job" look. Oh parents. Oh I need to move out of the house last week.

Anyways, I veer off track already, as I am bound, by my inner-workings of (il)logic, to do. Have recently just finished Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse and quite possibly am in love with it. For me, Woolf is one of those authors that took a couple of tries before I started getting/enjoying what she was doing. I enjoyed Mrs. Dalloway but To the Lighthouse will take its quiet place among my favorites of books.

Shifting perspectives between the heads of the Ramsey family and their guests, the 'plot' here is all psychological/mental and not traditional 'action.' Writing with stream of consciousness and a kind of poetry that just flows, Woolf seems so excellently to capture inner workings of the mind. The insecurities, how we deal with each other and how we can never really know others because one's own mind and judgments are so enclosed and complex and paradoxical.

My Tylenol-cold sponsored typing cannot express the beauty of this book. It's so damn human. Check it out.

My very exciting life is also occupied by wanting to read Chang-rae Lee's latest book, Aloft . He hangs out with Toni Morrison and Joyce Carol Oates at Princeton and gets bothered by snooty club members. I always thought that Toni Morrison would be mad scary, but people tell me that isn't so. I think I may have made that all up. Ummmm yeah, yay for Asian people who can write!

Quick de-generation into meaninglessness.

Friday, May 14, 2004

These are just a couple of my cravings

coffeecigs


I want to see Coffee and Cigarettes, which is out today in some places. Black and white, oh how artsy, vignettes mostly of famous people, which include Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, and those White Stripe sibs, sitting around and partaking of aforementioned items. The NYT likes it. And I like anything with coffee in it.

A.O. Scott is A.O.K. Great, now I can't be his friend cuz I just did that. Dammit. Anyhoo, I like his writing. Here's one on the Cannes Film Festival and Pedro Almodovar.

Also looking forward to the release of Garden State (limited release: 30 July), written and directed by Scrubs' Zach Braff (Such great show!), starring himself and Natalie Portman. It premiered at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival and is about a guy who is getting over the loss of his mother and trying to cope with life without antidepressents. Dunno why it's 'Garden State' unless living in NJ is like trying to live without pills. Or maybe it just takes place there. Among AMG's 'Tones" for the movie are: Bittersweet, Wry, Literate,and Quirky.

That's everything I want to be. Bittersweet, Wry, Literate, and Quirky.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

best speaker ever

No offense to Albright; she was great. But I knew I should've actually campaigned for Conan to be commencement speaker. Cuz you know me. I'm such the campaigning type.

You've been lied to

So at Field Day last year, with Underworld up on stage, pelvic thrusts and all, there was this one song where I thought he was saying "You've been lied to" over and over and over and over again. But it turns out that those aren't the words.

But that doesn't matter. I just keep on thinking of those words as scary-continuous-techno soundtrack to the current administration.

Here's a NYT Op-Ed piece about the Abu-Ghraib "trophy shots" explaining the thumbs-up at misery by the "Other" factor.

"It is conceivable that such events might have occurred in a war in which the enemy looked like us �certainly, there are Americans to whom all foreigners are irredeemably Other. Still, it is striking how, in wartime, a fundamental lack of respect for the enemy's body becomes an issue only when the enemy is perceived as being of another race... Treating those we deem our equals as game animals, however, has been out of fashion for quite a few centuries."

Thomas Friedman and Maureen Dowd also have nice word-work today.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Speaking of Dreams Deferred

Yeah, the Tony Awards. I don't know how many people tune into this one. Hugh Jackman hosts on June 6th. After a semester chock-full-of-theatre, it's hard not to be interested in the goings-ons of this wacky world. Gothamist has a nice tid-bit responding to the NYT Public Editor who gripes about an "artistically meaningless, blatantly commercial, shamefully exclusionary and culturally corrosive award competition." I dunno. Broadway. It's a strange place where Cats can run for gazillions of years, Pulitzer-winning plays, and an amazingly funny, edgy production like Avenue Q can all reside, with audiences running about saying "Fabulous!"

But besides rooting for my personal faves, there's the issue of Bombay Dreams . We saw this a couple weeks ago, during previews, and I got a kind of Andrew Lloyd Webber bad taste in my mouth. In fact, a matter of taste might just be what all this is about. Maybe this just isn't my thing, the splash and glitter of Broadway musicals might be too damn "mainstream" for my snobbily up-turning nose?

Critics generally reacted pretty unfavorably to this production. This Wall Street Journal review gets rather energetic about it: "It won't be enough if 'Bombay Dreams' flops — I'd like to see it removed from the Broadway Theatre with bulldozers at high noon. Not since 'Urban Cowboy' have I endured a show so irredeemably stupid as this backhanded 'tribute' to the musicals churned out in boxcar lots by "Bollywood," the Bombay-based Indian film industry."

Despite negative reviews and a shut-out from the big categories of the Tony nominations, audience response seems to be generally favorable. Bringing the production from London's West End to Broadway has involved numerous changes, anticipating New York's much lower population of South Asians and heavy dependence on traditional B'way audiences (white. tourists. white. white.) I am no Bollywood expert, but really, Bollywood and Broadway seem to have kind of a lot in common that would make this sort of thing work excellently. Stock plots and characters and big dance and song numbers. But what? Why the dissatisfaction??


Yes. Hurrah for exposing a "new" culture into the Broadway scene and all that. They don't call it the Great White Way for nothin. This production is accessible. Maybe that's all that matters. People looking for glitz and glam and a glimpse either into a world probably not their own, or to see their own, actually visible wow! on a big stage will get some satisfaction and their money's worth. The cast is for the most part South Asian, and the people working on the creative side of Bombay Dreams are a mix of traditional theater people and respected people in the Bollywood world like A.R. Rahman. (Dare I say, fusion? What a useless term.)

Still, is this just the next Miss Saigon? Is there that angry-word exotification going on here? What's the deal? That's what I've been puzzling about. I'd like to think this is not some cultural-flavor of the month thing going on, and it does seem to me that intentions are generally in the right places. Bombay Dreams might actually have been parodying Bollywood conventions. I think that's what was going on, but really, I just couldn't be sure whether I thought it sucked and then felt guilty and upgraded it to "it was just okay - go see it for yourself." I'm rather curious to hear the response of Indian audience members but personally, I wasn't familiar enough with the genre to comfortably recognize and appreciate possible self-poking.... iiiii dunno. Isn't this maybe a problem?

BUT, here's the kicker. Make sure you're sitting down, as I hope you carry out your computerly practices as such. This was overheard from one of the students on the program amongst the chit chat. "Wait, so is Bombay a place?"

WHAAAAAAAAAAAAA-AAAAT?!!!?!?!?!?!?!?! Who are you!?!? Where are you from!?!?!? For the love of God do not procreate! This, from a student of a nationally top-10 ranked (thanks US News) university. AUGH!!!!!!! It's not like she was confusing it with the name-change to Mumbai. Why can't people freaking pick up a newspaper or a book?!?! Rant rant rant. So despite all this mumbling-jumbling I've done in the paragraphs above, they are all null and void. Because of SUCH lack of visibility of Asians in the media (seriously, if you can come up with more figures than there are fingers on your hands, throw me an e-mail and I'll come up with some kind of prize. Hopefully you will not have lost any fingers. Err. I meant that in a nice way), including the live theater, I have to take what I can get.


I didn't really think Bombay Dreams was fabulous fabulous. I, at first, thought the Wall Street Journal bit was pretty damn funny. But in the end, I don't agree. Keep the bulldozers far away. Even if this is an Andrew Lloyd Webber project. Even if one of the tunes had a suspicious resemblance to the chord progression of "Memory" from Cats. Even if the audience members will never attempt to see an actual Bollywood movie.

Because there are people out there who do not know that Bombay is a place.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Alumnus

Ah. Hitting that "New Entry" button feels good. Much more gooder than allergies. I am allowed to say things like "gooder", because it will help me find a writing job which will be breezy because of my three how-can-you-refuse-me adjectives: Quirky, Creative, and Fun.

Whew. It's official. I am now an alumnus. That looks a bit too much like when people say aluminiyum. I am now crushable? Alumnus digression.

Weekend update. wrapup. Whatever. I'm not as cool or funny as Tina Fey and I need new glasses. I'm in such total dork mode right now. Lessee. Spending prolonged amounts of time with parents? Not priceless. They drove me nuts. Graduating? Pricey. Why is the cap/gown so expensive? I mean, seriously now.

It was weird being back in Durham. I forgot I had left like 6 boxes of stuff in my old room so moving those were fun. I re-claimed my bottle of baileys though. yum. Madeleine Albright was entertaining and all inspirational and proved me the fool since I had low expectations. I guess that's what happens when you're all smart and powerful like that. Grrl power!

My cousins and their kids came. Cuteness abounds. Kids are 6 and 8 and precocious and cute and babbly. My parents wanted to trade me in for them, I suspect. We ate at this quite yummy, bit pricey Thai place called shabashabu in Raleigh near Melting Pot, the fondue place that I never got around to going to during my 4 years. Um. Yeah go there if you're in the area.

The parents were in high form. My mom commented at least 20 times about how grand the football stadium was, where commencement was held. That's what happens when you have a sucky team. A grand football stadium. One highlight of trip: her pretending? to dance (move around) to Hey Ya while cousin-kids know ALL the words and sing (speak) them. World falls apart. Dad is preoccupied by counting all the asian kids and successes (pas moi) in all the graduation and award programs. Whoo. Honors Shmonors.

I've had enough of school to be glad that I'm done (for now). I've been away from campus enough to remember Durham pretty fondly. It's not a bad little place especially if you have a car. Good music food nature culture etc etc. I still feel kind of weird though. To be done. Why don't they prepare you for this real life business?? Eeeeeee.

What next? Nooooooooo cluuuueeee.