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February 13th, 2007

Changing Times


"Jitney", a play set in the 1970's in Pittsburgh, features an entertaining cast of 6 characters. My boyfriend took me to see it at the famous Ford's Theater last Saturday afternoon. He had tickets given to him by his school in an appreciation gesture they were making for their teachers.

The plot centers, appropriately enough for its title 'Jitney', around a "Car Service" as they say when they answer the phones. The drivers pay dues in exchange for being able to work under the service and use the station to hang out while they are not driving. This reminded me of the taxi service on Yap, and I started getting homesick.

I don't go to live theater very much, mostly because I would prefer to watch a movie or go to a live music show, but this play was really entertaining because the characters were so likeable and well played. Live theater irritates me sometimes. It's obvious the actors/actresses are playing characters and engaging in dialogue they would never engage in, saying things they would never ordinarily say. But in Jitney, the characters and dialogue, and the actors who portrayed them, were all, mostly, natural and comfortable. With one of the exceptions being Becker's son, who re-enters Becker's life after being let out of the State penetentiary after serving 20 years for manslaughter. The character and his role was definitely serious, but I think the actor played it a little too seriously and stiffly.

My favorite character was one of the drivers who was constantly drunk. At one point, Becker tells him that he can't come back to work until he was sober, which doesn't make him very happy. He asserts that he's paid his dues for two weeks so he has a right to be a driver. Becker gives him his dues money back and tells him to get out. At that point, the drunk driver flails his arms about exclaiming, "This is the United States of America! This is a free country!". It was funny.

The best actor, though, was the youngest driver named "Youngblood". He was having relationship problems and his girlfriend (the only female actress in the play) often came by the station to see him and whine dramatically about things that were wrong (e.g. not having enough money to feed the baby or him staying out too late or suspecting him or cheating on her with her sister "Peaches"). His character was so natural and relaxed- based on the way he moved around the stage and around the props and with his clothes. All the actors and actress were dressed in these outrageously colorful and flamboyantly 1970s style clothes (e.g. bellbottoms, bright vests/jackets, etc.). Some of the actors looked a little silly and slighlty uncomfortable in their costumes. Stiff. Their demeanor suggested, somehow, that they would never, themselves, wear an outfit like that. But the actor who played Youngblood was different. The way he sat and walked. At one point he spent the night at the station because he didn't want to go home after an accusatory confrontation with his wife ending in her saying she wasn't going to be there when he got home. The next morning he had to put his shoes on. There was something about the way he put on his shoes that required readjusting some time later, mid-dialogue, because he didn't do it right the first time, and in order to keep walking around he needed to bend down and fix it. It was the way he bent down and adjusted his shoes struck me as so normal and natural, like anyone could really have been doing that, and it wasn't acting a part of a character. There was another point where he had to go around a desk in the corner, and just the way he maneuvered around the piece of furniture also struck as very comfortable and natural.

The play, although it was long, ended rather abruptly with the death of Becker. I thought this last plot twist could have been left out. The play could have ended without it as there was plenty of closure to the stories of the characters' lives. It's good to leave things up to imagination sometimes. The theme of the plot was changes. The building where the station was located was potentially going to be boarded up and the car service was potentially going to close down, Becker's son was released from jail after 20 years, Youngblood and his girlfriend patch up their relationship and are buying a house together after Youngblood- who had not been cheating on her with her sister- had been working two jobs to save and pay for it, the drunk guy seemed like he was sobering up, and the car service workers had a meeting and decided to hire a lawyer to fight the destruction of the building where the station was. The play could have ended there. But instead Becker was killed on his first night back at work at the mill, and the play ended on somewhat of a sad tone until the son realized that he wanted to continue in his dad's place running the car service.

I had never been in Ford's Theater before. The President's box, where I'm assuming Lincoln was assassinated, is located quite near the stage. It is roped off and decorated. The lower floor of the building, where the bathrooms are located, is a museum displaying information and artifacts of that time period and of the assassination.

February 10th, 2007

Apparently not everyone shared my enjoyment of the Super Bowl commercial featuring a sad but cute assembly line robot.

I mean, geez, how melodramatic and whiny are people getting these days? It's a frickin' commercial. People have way too much free time expending the effort required to get GM to edit one of their commercials. There are plenty of worthwhile current issues actually of grave and imminent concern (e.g. global climate change), that need people to spend their time and money on. I'll give them a list. Not that I'm one to talk at the moment, sitting, unemployed, in my parents' suburbanite ivory tower, writing in this blog about nonsense. But my heart is in the right place, I swear...

February 8th, 2007


A list of movies I've watched, under various circumstances, since coming back to the U.S. in November 2006:

- A Girl From Paris
- The Tin Drum
- Whalerider ****
- Dazed and Confused ***
- Monsoon Wedding ****
- Life or Something Like it *
- The Illusionist ***
- Amélie ****
- Thirteen **
- Lost in Translation ***
- Bowling For Columbine ***
- The Family Stone ****
- Danny Deckchair *
- Fast Times at Ridgemont High ****
- Hanging Up ***
- A Prarie Home Companion **
- Edmond **
- Seabiscuit ***
- Shattered Glass **
- An Inconveniant Truth ****
- Children of Men ****
- Relative Strangers **
- Friends With Money ***
- Broken Flowers **
- Match Point *
- A Scanner Darkly **
- Secretary ***
- Born Into Brothels ***
- Failure to Launch **
- Nacho Libre ***
- The Hours ***
- Just Desserts *
- Trust The Man *
- The Squid and the Whale **
- The Breakup **
- The Devil Wears Prada ***
- You, Me and Dupree **
- Poseidon *
- Spiderman **

**** really good, I want to watch it over and over
*** good, I want watch it again
** ok, I would maybe watch it again
* really bad, I would never watch again

February 6th, 2007

On Sunday afternoon, huddled amidst the warm covers with my new/old companion and comfort in my life, we watched Amélie. My first time seeing the movie. The first 20 min, as it was explained to me, is the best part. I enjoyed how it went through what each character liked and disliked.

Me, I like:
- staying up late
- sleeping in late
- warm covers
- being warm
- being and laughing with old friends and loved ones
- driving long distances
- being in new places
- metal (the music and the material)
- being in/looking at what's underwater
- bacon and brie cheese (together or seperate)
- working through a math, physics, or chemistry problem for hours and getting the right answer
- email
- velvet and other fuzzy materials
- free City Papers
- public radio
- taking a really good shit (the kind where you feel like you've lost 5 lbs afterwards)
- dressing up
- animals
- being messy but organized
- music and being creative
- raw data and making it presentable
- wearing clean, cute, sexy, comfortable underwear
- being inside when it's raining and listening to creepy, beautiful music with candles lit
- the feeling of barefeet across fuzzy, slightly damp grass

I dislike:
- the smell of cooked broccoli down the garbage disposal- it smells like garbage
- talking to people who are in a hurry and/or don't care about what I'm saying
- mushrooms and other foods with a mushy and/or rubbery consistency
- being told what to do/not to do
- being cold
- cleaning
- art on display that looks like I could have done it
- printed grammatical mistakes
- feeling out of place
- loud, repetitive, annoying noises
- thong bikini underwear (a.k.a. buttfloss)
- people who are unappreciative of what they have or where they are

(no subject)

This past weekend and beginning of the week was filled with things not experienced in a while.

1. My friend, who was my lab-mate and academic sibling at UNCW, visited me from RI at my parents' house over the weekend while helping his brother move out of Baltimore. The last time I had seen him was at his wedding before I left for Peace Corps.

Highlights included:
- drinking lots of wine on Fri
- discussing goings on at UNCW and in our old lab
- being supremely hungover on Sat morning
- being hung over and neurotic around my parents
- hanging out with while touring DC on Sat
- going to an Ethoipian restaurant and eating with our hands while being convinced that there is a physiological basis (whatever that would be) for drinking more to get rid of a persistent hangover
- walking around U St
- finding and then walking into Poets and Busboys to discover it too crowded to stay and hearing bits of peoples' conversations (e.g. "E=mc^2, geez!")
- driving chaotically and navigating (while I almost got us killed) through DC
- walking through the FD Roosevelt memorial at night and along the Tidal Basin for a bit, in the cold
- going to Tastee Diner in Bethesda around midnight and being served by a waitress who didn't hate her life
- getting up to say good-bye at 5:30 am Sun morning

2. Then there was the Super Bowl. It was great being amidst enthusiastic football fans watching the game with yummy food. It had been several years since I participated in this seemingly American tradition. And, the best part was I even got a good explanation of the game of football. To the extent that I think I finally understand it now. I've had football explained to me countless times by several people and have never fully grasped what those huge guys with cute butts in tight stretchy pants huddling and lining up throwing the ball around were trying to do besides score touchdowns. It was an exciting game. It was raining in Miami. A Bears touchdown immediately followed the kickoff. There were several fumbles, lots of scoring in the first half (I like watching the players' facial and dancing reactions when they score a touchdown), about 10 Coke and 10 Bud commercials, and a cute commercial with a sad- then dreaming and relieved- car assembly line robot.

3. This morning, I woke up to my parents fretting over their car having a flat tire. I had been driving the car around all weekend, so I was nominated the one to deal with the issue. As they are and always will be my parents, I was given endless annoying instructions for how to go about this and I, in attempts to try to be a good daughter, followed their words of wisdom. Called the insurance company, since they have roadside assistance coverage. A tow truck was sent. A guy came and put on the spare tire. (Couldn't I have put the spare tire on myself? It would have been a good learning experience for how to change a tire...) There was a tiny (about an inch long) nail causing the flattage. Learned from the towing guy that you can drive about 80 mi on the spare tire. Drove the car to the parental-appointed mechanic at the nearest Exxon station...paid the mechanic the required $30 dollars to patch the tire. (Couldn't another place have done this for much, much less...?)

4. Went to the liquor store to replenish the parents' nearly-empty wine cabinet.

5. I really need a job...

February 1st, 2007

In efforts to procrastinate, I've been on a movie kick recently. Last night I watched Bowling for Columbine again, and it reminded me of a bumper sticker on this one car on Yap. From the first day I saw it I've thought it was hilarious. Mostly because no one has guns on Yap. I asked permission to take this photo. It was granted, and the owner thought it was hilarious that I wanted to take the picture! Aw, good times.

January 30th, 2007

I checked out the DVD for Fast Times at Ridgemont High from the public library today. Great movie. Some discoveries after, probably, 5 years since I'd last watched it.

1. This is actually the first time I've seen this movie unedited for length and content. When I was in high school I used to tape movies off of TV then watch them over and over again endlessly. This was one of them. I hadn't realized the extent of the editing until now, but as it's rated R, quite a few scenes were removed/altered to make the material suitable to air for general audiences. It's interesting to look back on what content was edited. All pot smoking scenes and references. When Jeff Spicoli and friends pull up somewhere in their van, open the doors, and smoke comes billowing out. The scene where Jeff is smoking from a bong and talking to his friend on the phone about it, he takes his shoe, hits his head with it exclaiming, "That's my skull! I'm so wasted!" The only part of that scene left after editing was Jeff hitting his head with the shoe exclaiming "That's my skull!". It didn't make any sense until now! I'm so enlightened. All three boob shots (two of Stacy and one of Linda during Brad's fantasy) and two sex scenes (both Stacy, once with the electronics salesman, once with Mike Damone- geez, wasn't this girl's parents ever home? How come I always had such strict supervision when I was in High School!?). Brad Hamilton masturbating while fantasizing about Linda in a red bikini, who then walks in on him in the bathroom. Blow job lessons with carrots. All curse words- Jeff Spicoli called Mr. Hand a "nerd" instead of a "dick". On the first day of school, when Mike Damone is talking to the big football player, Charles Jefferson (Forrest Whittaker) about his car, Jefferson tells Damone "Don't fool with it", instead of "don't fuck with it". Most interesting, is the scene where Stacy Hamilton and Mike Damone are discussing the abortion. The scene was left in, but it was edited as to imply what they were talking about. All lines of dialogue mentioning the word abortion were deleted. The short scene inside the abortion clinic was deleted.

2. Young Nicholas Cage has a cameo appearance in this movie. He's in a few scenes, but I noticed him as the random guy in the back kitchen at the fast food All American Burger where Brad Hamilton works. They pan over him in the scene where Brad cusses out a customer and gets fired. He has this great dumbfounded facial expression, with those big, vivid, dopey eyes.

3. There's a Stevie Nicks song that starts playing as Mike Damone is calling around trying to find money, then Stacy Hamilton is waiting, unsuccessfully, in front of her house to be picked up to go to the abortion clinic. The song is emotional, melancholy, and beautiful.

Apparently the song only appeared on the movie's soundtrack until a Stevie Nicks box set was released in 1998.

Sleeping Angel

Take me if you need me
But never hold me down
You're asking me to trust you
Well there's little of that around

I'm trying to believe you
And I'm learning all the time
Two-part personality
The flower and the vine

Take me sleeping angel
Catch me when you can
Real love affairs are heavy spells
For a woman and a man

I need you because you let me breathe
Well you've taken me away
But never take me lightly
Or I could never stay

Well, someday when we're older
And my hair is silver gray
Unbraid with all of the love that you have
Like a soft silver chain

Oh, take me sleeping angel
Oh, catch me when you can
And unbraid with all the love that you have
Like a soft silver chain

January 25th, 2007

From the windows in the Whole Foods store across from Amy's apt in DC. Note: Wooleian, Chuukese (and the repeat from 'Truk'), Ponapean, Palauan, Carolinian, and Chomorro.

January 24th, 2007

pet peeve

My mother had me doing some grocery shopping the other day. So I'm walking around Trader Joe's, an awesome reasonably-priced organic foods store, when I noticed this sign. I can't remember exactly what the sign said, but it was something to the effect of, "If your in the mood for some chili tonight...". Therein lies one of my pet peeves: misuse of the possessive your rather than the correct contraction, you + are = you're. And on a publically displayed sign no less! I was going to let it go, but I couldn't stop staring. Then, as I was wandering around looking at all the pretty food, the manager noticed I was being aimless and asked if he could help me find anything. I said no, but that I wanted to point out something and make a suggestion, which he seemed happy hear. I walked over to the sign, showed him, and pointed out the error. I pretended that I was an elementary school teacher and told him that I was not very happy about that sign. I wondered out loud to the manager how many young kids have already seen that sign. They will think that it's ok to make that mistake! He agreed and assured me the sign was old (because that's comforting!) and that it will be coming down soon (but not immediately!).

January 22nd, 2007

weather and sunsets


Yesterday, the DC area received its first dusting of snow of this winter season. This morning/afternoon, as temperatures are slowly rising above freezing, the snow is starting to melt. It was nice to see snow falling. This weather is rather conducive to staying inside all day, in pajamas, with hot chocolate, Campbell's Chicken & Stars soup, saltine crackers and Havarti cheese, and a good book.

I'm presently making my way through Climate Change and Biodiversity (Lovejoy and Hannah eds. 2005)- a whirlwind tour reviewing the body of literature and data examining impacts of climate and environmental changes on global biodiversity. I'm hoping that reading this review will inspire me to buckle down and start doing my own literature review, which will enable me to begin forming research plans for my dissertation and write a proposal for grant funds from somewhere so that I can fund a dissertation.

I had forgotten about winter. How gray and cold it is...which probably sounds silly. I had also forgotten about the amount of daylight, or lack thereof. At least my parents don't live in northern Europe. I miss living around the equator, where the sun rises and sets dependably at the same time every day- around 6:30 am and 6:30 pm. Always a dependable and lengthy amount of daylight. It's conducive to rising with the sun and getting things done before the mid-day gets too hot. Then, once the sun goes down, the early evening is favorable for getting things done as well. Here in the U.S., in the mid-northern hemisphere where seasons play a factor in the temperature as well as the amount of available daylight, getting things done seems to be restricted to the few mid-day daylight hours. Early in the morning, it's too dark and cold, as is the evening. Daylight is gray. And what few, strategically placed, manicured trees people have allowed there to be have no leaves and all seem dead during this time of year. I need to move somewhere warm. Soon.

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