Monday, May 31, 2004

Memorial Day

seeing as it's past one am, it's already Memorial Day here in chi-town. i'm not quite sure what Memorial Day is for (my fond memories of the past two Memorial Days involve first a full-day Xfiles marathon my first year, and then a couple of hours lounging in the sun my second year, followed by meeting Ruimin for real for the first time sitting on the floor of Yihui's room in Chamberlain) other than being our one official school holiday in Spring Quarter, very gratefully timed for the Monday of Tenth Week.

as it turns out, i only have another two days of classes, and honestly, only one more serious class for the year: Mearsheimer's Seminar on wednesday. (sebastian has retreated to England so no EU seminar; East Asian Sec is over save the paper; and after turning in Leitzel's twelve page monster paper on prostitution and its regulation on tuesday, all i'll be fit for is studying for the quiz on thursday and then being finally done with Regulation of Vice forever!) so it's kind of odd to be at the end of Spring Quarter my third year already. but i'm looking forward to summer vacation and alaska with the parents and a week with H in Singapore before work starts. and seeing everyone at DPPS again.

speaking of seeing everyone, though i probably won't be seeing him anytime soon: Thanks for the email, Ry. =) it was really great of you. hang in there too!

so, i'm feeling kind of accomplished right now: i've only just got the conclusion of my Vice paper to write; i've turned out my summary of various articles for group study for the Vice Quiz as promised; and on top of that i managed to get some graduation prezzies out of the way -and- watch Shrek 2 this weekend. been tree-d for a lot of it here in the apartment, because we've been having some more of that tornado-thunderstorm weather, but managed to get out enough not to be stir-crazy. and to buy lots of books at 57th Street Books (because they're on 20% members' sale this weekend). and, this afternoon, i figured out how to get the wireless network to work on my iBook. (i was setting the password to the wrong level of encryption, because i am a computer-dork) so i am a happy camper. i also spent a great deal of time tonight kicking a Looking Forward Giving Back stress ball like it's a football with alex in my apartment (we're both crazy, clearly) learning how to take free kicks and not giggling too hard when it came my turn to be goalie. i make a TERRIBLE goalie.

but it's time for me to read some of the good stuff i picked up today (Rainer Maria Rilke's Letters To A Young Poet; Jane Austen's Emma which Leitzel's enthusiastic review of a week or two ago prompted me to pick up to reread; and Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver, which i couldn't resist since it was on sale.) and then go to bed. ahhh, Memorial Day Weekend. how i love you. =)

p/s. i forgot! i spent two hours i'll never get back again watching Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd in The Object of My Affection, and wondering why on earth Paul Stephen Rudd looked so familiar. then i came back to my room, and googled his name. (a) he was in Romeo and Juliet. (b) he was Josh in Clueless -ie only my favourite guy-actor in the entire world immediately after i finished the movie, and part of the whole reason i fell in love with that movie in the first place; and (c) he's Mike on Friends. like -he's only Phoebe's husband, no big deal. -grins sardonically at self- i clearly have a bad memory for faces. Paul Rudd, on the other hand, seems to be rather typecast as the sweet geeky boy that no one can resist, even when he's a gay man.

but now i reallyreallyreally want to watch Clueless again. who cares about Alicia Silverstone and whatever her crazy character was called? the only redeeming moment in her character's life is realising she's fallen in love with Josh. it's all about Josh. he may well have been the first movie male i fell in love wi...no wait, i think i saw Neverending Story before i saw Clueless. anyway i'll stop rambling now and go...to...bed...zzzzz...

Sunday, May 30, 2004

it's the weekend of ninth week

i don't understand quite how it can be the weekend of ninth week, spring quarter my third year here at the U of C. but it is. and it is still dismally cold. (it is funny how Memorial Day, traditionally the first day of summer, is going to tons colder than Labour Day, traditionally the first day of fall.)

how did i spend my saturday, you ask? knowing full well, of course, that i have tons of work to do, some more immediately pressing than others, such as a twelve page paper on the regulation of prostitution due on tuesday, and a summary of various readings due to friends by midnight tomorrow. in less than twentyfour hours, in fact. and then another three papers to write, one of which is already making pstan have fits in the reg, and send me ranting emails that i would have replied to by visiting his cubicle had i been in the Reg. but i wasn't.

because i was downtown, watching Shrek 2 and shopping for graduation prezzies. Shrek, by the way, is a great movie for adults: it was hilarious, i laughed my head off. but there were plenty of kiddies in the audience who (a) had no idea what was going on; (b) were bored and had to have everything explained to them; or (c) screamed their head off through the entire experience. a piece of advice to those who have yet to see it: you should! but go at a timeslot where it is unlikely to be filled with screaming small children.

i woke up late this morning. ten am, to be precise. and then goofballed around making breakfast, checking my email, and watching some French Open tennis between S. Williams and someone, and V. Williams and Mary Pierce. briefly. then i got started on writing my paper, migrating between the living room and my room as fancy struck. around two pm, i got totally bored (i had written approximately four pages by then) and proclaimed that i would like to go get some munchies. (i write better with munchies, or so i claim) that rapidly evolved into 'going shopping' and then 'a movie' - so we headed downtown, did some shopping in various places, watched Shrek at the AMC River East, and then trekked to Bennigan's for dinner.

where we proceeded to have Terrible Service -we waited twenty minutes for the damn check, for goodness' sakes- and barely mediocre food. catch me going back to that Bennigan's anytime soon. i was seriously annoyed.

and now we are home, and i am working yet again on the prostitution paper, and it is now more than halfway done. it is terrible, but frankly, i am finding it hard to care...i'm just terrified that he will fail me. ARGH.

Get Fuzzy and Rubgy, Or New Zealand Always Wins




so it transpires that Rob Wilco on Get Fuzzy is a rugby freak =) you'll probably have to click on the strip to be able to read it - there's a little much text to read it at this size. Rob's rubgy fascination is pleasantly surprising for me, and leads to random mornings convulsed with laughter over strips much like this one, which reminded me of another one i have from a while ago...




ah, new zealand. =)

Saturday, May 29, 2004

homesick

my parents called tonight, while i was at a party, just to say hi. i missed the call, of course, since the phone's ring was too puny to be heard above the massed noise of a bunch of semi-drunk Singaporeans and loud music. but i heard my dad's voicemail and went out into the hallway to call them back.

it transpired that mom wanted just to say hello. and my dad wanted to talk to me and make sure i'm not dead but pretended it was really my mother who wanted to talk to me on the voicemail. -grin- so we chatted about our new canada plans - instead of sticking around in vancouver we are flying to Calgary and then driving to Banff, wherever that is - briefly, and then after admonishing me to work, dad rang off.

no nagging about the party noise in the background, no demanding to know why i wasn't doing work on a friday night instead of going to a party. -grin- it was bizarre.

i think they finally realise i am growing up. -wink-


Friday, May 28, 2004

oh, the police

my current away messge reads: "Presumably you could put 'contract killer' on your income tax for and nothing would happen.' (Jim Leitzel on the Fifth Amendment) his class is turning up lots of away-msg-worthy soundbites, as is Mearsheimer's, though i am less faithful about transcribing JJM's - they also tend to be longer.

tonight's edition of Idle Thoughts will comprise mostly remarks about the Regulation of Vice, and random news articles regarding prostitution: i have a paper due after the weekend, and it is Research Time.

first up, we have: Tucson Police Use Education to Drive Away Prostitution. in brief, they are picking up johns, and trying to educate them on a bunch of issues, the "issues being the variety of sexual diseases prostitute carry, the damage being caught can do to the man's reputation, and the range of other crimes prostitution brings to a neighborhood. The program, called Safety Through Deterrence, or STD, educates johns about these problems and aims to drive down the demand for prostitutes." now, i don't know about you guys, but i find it hilarious that a program educating clients about the dangers of prostitution should be called STD. kudos, Tucson - you made my evening. or what's left of it after spending two hours on my couch watching America's Sweethearts. but i digress.

meanwhile, the IHT has an article about new approaches to Italian prostitution, including a 'rehab program' (as if prostitution were like drug addiciton). it's interesting that some women turned to prostitution because they earn more as prostitutes than they would as lawyers/doctors/indian chiefs. leads me to wonder if women substitute between professional jobs and high-end prostitution because of the glass ceiling - women finding some way to make their sexuality work for them? hmmm-mm. obviously, at the lower end of the income ladder, prostitution is a job that requires no educational qualifications, pays relatively well if you're good at what you do, and in fact pays better than flipping burgers at a local diner.

a final case involving prostitution of sorts: this was pointed out in class today by Prof. Leitzel - a connection between Greenpeace and prostitution? no...read the article, it's worth it. Federal prosecutors tried to charge Greenpeace with an old law aimed at prostitutes which makes 'sailor mongering' illegal, in effect making it illegal to board ships offshore (to solicit, but that isn't clear in the law). it's disturbing, esp with regard to the fact that it was thrown out on a technicality - and its very use is based on a technicality. someone needs to go through the law books and take these things OUT!

to wind up, a few thoughts about the paper before i forget what i want to write: i'm going to attempt to make a case for legalising (not just decriminalising) prostitution in the United States. legalised prostitution would only cover brothel prostitution, and perhaps call-girl agencies, but not streetwalking. i don't think there's a regime in the world that likes the idea of streetwalkers, and i certainly don't. it's the most unsafe of the various forms of prostitution and it's got the greatest public nuisance value. at the same time, i think i want to limit the public nuisance externality, so i'm gonna go with the 'Zones of Tolerance' notion (basically a red-light district a la geylang, though it will be hard to create the good food...) and perhaps insist that clients be sober. of course all prostitutes must not be underage, and the same applies to clients.

need to do more research!

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

British Imperialism, Africa, and the Power Gap between America and everyone else

having skimmed two thirds of the reading for Sebastian's class tomorrow morning, and having little desire to plunge feetfirst into a constructivist take on German Identity, i'm gonna take a couple of minutes out of my busy reading schedule and blog about a couple of things i read/thought about today.

i highly recommend, as 'light summer reading' (as Mearsheimer likes to put it) for anyone even remotely interested in the topic, Niall Ferguson's Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power, despite the long and cumbersome title (reminiscent of Jonathan Swift). as the Wall Street Journal proclaims: 'Scrupulous scholarship [and] a rattling good tale', the second in particular is true. it's a hilarious yet informative read, perfect for the summer.

and as an end result of having to read the entire thing for class tomorrow i now know far more about Africa than i ever did, including the fact that nation-states in Africa are basically arbitrary lines drawn by 19th century power politics between England, France, and Germany. which explains both the constant turmoil the entire continent is in, since it wasn't made to fit the lines that have been drawn across its face, and the abiding interest the Europeans take in Africa (colonial/imperial guilt).

also, pstan and i went downtown today for a panel discussion titled "Balancing Diversity and Unity: The Role of the EU and the UN in World Diplomacy" at the Gleacher Centre, organised by the Harris School here at the U of C. while the speakers were interesting, i was disappointed to hear a lot of talk about Iraq and the US, but fairly little about both the EU and the UN, and their continued roles (or lack thereof) in world politics today. sitting there i wandered off into jeanette-land for a while thinking about the future of said institutions, prompted by something the former French Prime Minister had remarked about a European foreign policy/foreign affairs ministry and its plausibility. and its organisational structure - the degree of autonomy national governments would have and so forth.

lastly, (and mostly for my benefit so i don't forget,) here're some preliminary thoughts on the Mearsheimer Final: Why Is There No Balancing Against the United States?

Answer: Primarily Walt's 'balance of threat' theory - the question of geography, of offensive capability, of power, and of intent, i believe are the four elements of 'threat'. while the US certainly has power and offensive capability in spades, geography keeps it from being really scary a la Germany in Europe, and it hasn't displayed much aggressive (imperialistic) intent, at least until recently. also Ikenberry's institutional lock-in is providing signalling of benign intent -at least until it stopped cooperating.

what's the future for balancing against america? perhaps if America keeps up behaviour that the rest of the world sees as threatening: unilateral action in the face of active world disapproval, the rhetoric of preventive war (rather than preemptive war), etcetcetc ad nauseum, we will see some balancing start to happen. already the allies are drifting: dissention in the European ranks, Japan's dual hedge strategy in East Asia and so forth. Ken Waltz's 'it's coming but slowly' idea may not be far wrong.

oh, and alex drove pstan and i downtown for the discussion this afternoon in weekeong's car. it was awesome! =) i like having a boyfriend who drives -grin- because i don't like to!

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

American Imperialism?

it transpires that this week's reading for Mearsheimer's class is Niall Ferguson's Empire, because we are going to be talking about an American 'empire' - and that the readings for East Asian Sec are also all about empire. for those of you interested, the US's National Security Strategy can be found here (be warned - it's a pdf file, might take a while to download, and it has lots of pretty pictures of the seal and lots of ridiculous quotes from Bushie -they head the start of every section). other choice titles include 'An Empire, If You Can Keep It' and 'Imperial Temptations'. -amused- it's good though, it means that there's some measure of overlap in what we're discussing in both classes, which in turn makes my life easier and gives me more time to research my prostitution paper, which i'll have to write this weekend.

heading off for this week's PISP workshop in a couple of minutes: Stephen Walt speaks on 'Global Responses to US Primacy', and hopefully gives me some tidbits for my Mearsheimer paper on Why There Is No Balancing Coalition Against The United States in the post Cold War era. ahhhh realism.

probably have more posts regarding US Empire and Grand Strategy over the next few days as i do my reading and start planning the multitude of papers i'll have to write by the wednesday of finals week. but for now, here's a question to ponder:

there are four thousand undergraduates and well over ten thousand graduate students at the University of Chicago, the majority of whom (a) use the Reg and (b) have laptops. why are there so few (working) power points in the Reg?

Monday, May 24, 2004

it's been a long twenty four hours

yesterday was completely wasted workwise on a trek down to Wheaton College, IL, for the Dupage Symphony Orchestra's performance of Mahler's Symphony No. 2 ("The Resurrection"). let me just get out that i LIKE Mahler, and i like the choral part too. and i really enjoyed being able to sing it with oh, something like a hundred other people. it was a huge chorus. and it's really nice to be able to sing a high Bflat at the top of my lungs (it's also basically the top of my singable -as opposed to squeakable- range) once in a while, in harmony and in a crazily grandiose piece, rather than as a one-off squawk in the middle of some crazy atonal modern piece. and i think that the orchestra did a great job yesterday too -they'd cleared worked far harder than we had (but we only had like five minutes of music) and were enthused about their performance. it was nice. it was also really interesting to be behind the orchestra but sitting down - i've never watched/listened to a symphony performance from behind timpani before, watching a forest of violin bows go up and down in time to Barbara's swooshing baton. i wished i'd sneaked my camera onto stage halfway through the first movement, when the baton was swooshing and the bows were sliding up and down, and there was intense concentration and the light was awesome and i could barely see the audience...

now the griping. i like Mahler, like i said. but i don't appreciate having to waste an entire saturday afternoon late in my quarter driving then rehearsing then sitting through eighty minutes of music to sing five minutes for an orchestra not affiliated to the U of C in any manner except that Barbara, who conducts our orchestra, also conducts the Dupage Symphony.

and singing with older singers is overrated, let me tell you. i love the fact that we had real men (no offence to our basses, but they too know they have yet to really grow into those low notes) who can reach low Cs without shaky wobbly i-can-barely-get-there-ness. but this was also the only time i have ever heard a choir flat out refuse to do what a choral director requests. when requested to return to the (previously unsecured and therefore wobbly) risers, a bunch of very loud older people went 'NO' and thoroughly scandalised us younguns from the Motet choir. the evening only deteriorated from there.

then i couldn't sleep last night - i went to bed around one or one thirty (after getting home from Wheaton, i had to finish reading Sebastian's dissertation chapters for this afternoon's dissection -more later) and then couldn't fall asleep until five am. waking up at 11.30 so that i could shower and get some coffee before class at one was difficult, to say the least. i think i am turning into a basket case. i'm not even sure why i feel so on edge and freaked out all the time, but i am. thank god there's only eight more days of classes and three more weeks of work before the break. i don't think i could make it much longer than that. i just don't feel like i've been very happy the last couple of weeks. even classes have become a chore.

though this afternoon's class was entertaining. Sebastian brought pizza, as promised, and i munched while Lora -who taught, because Sebastian obviously couldn't teach a class on his own dissertation- outlined away on the board, and within twenty minutes the gloves were off. it was hilarious how the class degenerated into random attacks and comments and sub voce snide remarks. i was watching Sebastian's face as i mouthed to him 'The gloves are coming off' in the middle of pstan's attack on authority pooling, and once again i wished i'd snuck my camera with me - the face he made was priceless.

now i'm still really tired, the caffeine has worn off, and i can't have any more. but i still have many chapters of Ferguson's Empire to get through, though it's a great read, the kind of thing i would (and have) read in bed (though i then tend to fall asleep, so i'm gonna try and avoid that tonight). it's like playing Civ III, only inside your head and with real people, instead of on a computer screen with figures the size of cities, and outrageously not-to-scale depictions of your little kingdoms. =)

and tonight, we are once again experiencing Tornado Weather. whoopee!


Saturday, May 22, 2004

more pictures




this whole photoblogging thing is cool!

i've spent the morning rearranging and relabelling my photos (and having my burner not cooperate with me, grr) and found this one waay back in the pile. also taken at my dad's birthday dinner last summer, it's a rare picture of a complete set of Kwek Cousins. Brian, Terrence, Chris, Eugene, me, Rachel, Ben (my brother), and in the back, Darren (our second cousin) and Daniel. we've just demolished tons of food, including whole fish and chicken, because gosh, those boys can EAT.

it's a nice picture, isn't it?

Friday, May 21, 2004

testing out the new photoblogging functions




so i've discovered that Blogger has new photo functions =) yay! so, the inaugural photo is one taken over the summer at my dad's birthday dinner - that's me on the left, my baby cousin (well she's in sch, so not really, but she's our littlest) rachel, and my brother ben.

wow, this is incredibly sweet. watch this space for more photos in the future, now that (a) my camera is back online and (b) i know how to get photos onto it. good job Blogger.

two more things to say:

(a) i hate microsoft, and bill gates should never have been born; and
(b) Olympus makes the craziest crappiest software for its digital cameras EVER. they seem want to make it impossible for you to find the photos on your computer using anything but their program, and then you can't do anything with them. bleaugh, i say to them. and phoooey too.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

you know it's been a bad week when...

...it's wednesday night and you barely remember what's happened since sunday.

a quick review:

monday was partially a disaster. after my usual cheerful lunch with pstan, Motet rehearsal, in which we had at least two Motet-ers leave the room after a spat with Randi, during rehearsal time. i also realised that we're having three concerts this quarter, one of which is out of town this weekend. i'm not happy with that, esp in the light of the thirty-some pages of final paper yet to be written for various classes -and- a Motet concert (we are singing for something like five bloody minutes worth of music for the ORCHESTRA CONCERT, for christ's sake) on the weekend of reading period. have mercy.

then i came home, reluctant to do work, and spend One Whole Hour trying to print off my readings for tuesday's East Asian Sec class - now that my computer is unable to multitask efficiently, particularly when it comes to pdf files, printing off readings has become an unmitigated nightmare. because then ALL the computer can focus on is painfully slow printing, while i sit here, twiddle my thumbs, and swear.

pissed off, i then head to the store to pick up ingredients for a cobbler -i cook/bake when i'm angry/avoiding work- and some creepy slimy older guy decides to hit on me in the bloody ZIPLOC aisle of the Hyde Park Co-Op. of all places. (This goes to shiyao's argument abt women and flirting, for those who've read it; i certainly didn't appreciate the fact that he hit on me merely because i have the requisite anatomy and on the off chance that for some bizarre reason i might have an out-of-body episode and give him my phone number or something.) so that pushed my mood even more downhill.

but then i came home, baked up my cobbler and cooked my dinner and two more meals beside (i told you i was pissed off) and then ran off downtown to Hot House with the swing dancers. it turned out we were too early, so we walked to Chipotle and i shared a lovely yummy pork burrito (without beans!) with Isaac...then we walked back and danced to Yoko. it was great fun, but exhausting too. =) no work done THAT night!

tuesday: the -what's the opposite of highlight, someone?- of my day: driving just over an hour to Wheaton, IL, to rehearse Mahler for the Dupage Symphony's concert this weekend. not relishing having to do a repeat performance on saturday. the actual ride over was fun -we were in Anne's car, it was a sopranomobile in addition to being the minnesotamobile (that's where Anne's from)- but i cannot believe we had a two hour rehearsal for five minutes of music -and- that we have to sit through four movements of Mahler before we get to sing. it was great to sing with some real basses (older basses) who can reach the low notes...but on balance i'd forgo that for not having to go to Wheaton this weekend. what was i THINKING?

today: has been the best day so far. funtimes during Sebastian's class this morning - he announced that he and his wife are pregnant, brought pictures of the baby (ultrasound!) to show us and behaved like a happy father-to-be - and we got to tackle, again, my old friend Trachtenberg. then Mearsheimer's class involved a spirited defence of Ikenberry's After Victory, which was also fun (and required a mid-session refuelling with grapes and orange slices. mmmm. good snack food.).

i've just spent the last few hours cooking, eating, watching the season finale of this season of West Wing (DONNA!!!!!), and writing a policy memo regarding the regulation of raves in chicago. now i have to go do the reading i was supposed to do on tuesday night...

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

people who drive around with their music blasting loud enough to wake the dead...

...and set off car alarms all down 55th Street thanks to the obnoxious sound waves blasting out of their hiphop producing cars should all be shot. or die, simultaneously, in excrutiating pain from being kicked in the balls (because they are INVARIABLY male, the pieces of shit.)

because they are complete and utter assholes. they are possibly the most inconsiderate people on the Face Of The Earth, and as far as I Am Concerned they Do Not Deserve To Live another second.

ARGH!

Monday, May 17, 2004

dinner at Hanyann's

just back from stuffing my face at Hanyann's place. she and claire cooked up a storm for Alex and i tonight: chicken with some yummy apricot-honey glaze, wild rice, and carrot-and-asparagus stirfry that frankly was the absolutely best part of the meal. well, perhaps after the dessert: fresh yummy gooey brownies, topped with fresh sweet strawberries and chocolate syrup. add to that a generous dose of good conversation and a glass or two of sweet white wine, and you get a great evening out. =) i had a great time.

but i definitely ate too much and my stomach is now -belatedly- informing me of its displeasure at my stuffing it.

it's been a good weekend, what with shopping and Chipotle and Troy yesterday, and a leisurely meander through 57th Street Books this morning, followed by finishing up my Ikenberry reading and then curling up in bed with my Illiad. eyeing Alex's copy of Don Kagan's The Peloponnesian War now, and sneakily contemplating ordering Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver and Confusion online for one great discounted price. though perhaps i shall wait for the paperback. or at least the third in the Baroque Cycle to come out, so i can get them all at once, and gorge myself on a surfeit of Stephenson. perhaps i shall succumb to temptation when i realise how godawful boring my summer job is going to be.

in the meantime, midnight is fast approaching and i have no immediate work to do. so i shall go curl up in bed with my Homer, or perhaps with Benny Morris's Righteous Victims, and read myself to sleeeee....zzzzzz...

Sunday, May 16, 2004

you know you're a U of C student when...

...all you think about during the battle scenes of Troy is the offence-defence balance, and how Troy is the most defensible city in the world and the Greeks are crazy to try and take it from the beaches. ('the beaches of Troy', in a very Normandy-esque fashion) and how bipolarity might not be the most stable, and realist power politics, and strategy. how helen is merely an excuse to launch a thousand ships.

i thought about putting in a warning about spoilers in the title, but eh, you already know the story of Troy, right? and there are no plot spoilers here. not obvious ones anyway. consider yourselves warned at this point.

...and then you stare at the thousand ships sailing across the Aegean Sea and while one part of you marvells ('ooh, ships, pretty, lots of ships, prettier') another part of you thinks about the impossible logistics of landing a thousand ships on the beaches of Troy, unloading their men, setting up camp ('what would they eat? how could you possibly land a thousand ships? do they do it in shifts?') and just finding housing and water and food for 50,000 Greek men most of whom don't want to be there in the first place and would rather spend all day playing dice in the cool hulls of their black ships.

...during the titanic clash between Hector and Achilles part of you goes 'oh, cool fight, even though i know who wins i don't want to see it happen', part of you is going 'hey! cool innovation in Achilles's shield! that's gonna cost Hector...i can't believe what a good idea that innovation is! wow!' (ok maybe that's not the U of C kid, maybe that's the navy brat who wants a bumper sticker that reads 'My Other Vehicle Is A Missile Corvette')

all that said, it was a really good job all round. Orlando Bloom made Paris no more palatable to me than Homer did, so i'm guessing that means he did a good job there, esp since i liked Orlando Bloom immensely as Legolas in LOTR. -grin- Diane Krueger was an awesome Helen: she had just the right classical beauty and otherworldly air and vulnerability to be an extremely sympathetic Helen. i felt that Helen here was not quite true to Homer's Helen, but eh, what else is new in a movie. =) i liked her rendition of Helen, even if at times i didn't really like Helen.

by far away the best character was Eric Bana as Hector. i've always had a big soft spot for Hector, our family-man-turned-hero, and i think Bana did a wonderful job of portraying a really great Hector. he was intense, clever, honest and noble, and did the whole going-to-his-doom-resolute thing very well. at the same time, the movie stays true to Hector-and-Andromache-and-little-baby-Astyanax moments, which rounds him out nicely -father, son, husband, brother, defender of Troy.

i hate to say this but Brad Pitt (i'm not usually a Pitt fan) did an excellent job of being Achilles. of course the movie makes him out to be a far more reformed and sympathetic character than he is (in my opinion) in Homer's tale, but i liked how they took the Briseis ball and ran with it...i've had that in the back of my mind since we did the Fagles translation of the Illiad in my first quarter here at the U of C in Greek Thought and Lit, and it was nice to see it taken to a (rather extreme) conclusion. i'll also make the obligatory female swoon over Those Abs, and Those Legs here. mmmmm-mmm-mmmm. hang on to those, honey.

so. much happier with the movie than i thought i would be, albeit partly because of the whole realist-power-politics thing they were deliberately playing up, and partly because it is so full of symbols and neatly-matching-up parts between Hector and Achilles that it's going to take another couple of viewings before i figure out what is going on in its entirely. and also partly because it's inspiring me to take my old broken annotated copy of the Illiad out of the bookshelf and read it again, paying more attention this time to the Story, not the details. (like the blood and guts and glory aspect of hand-to-hand combat in wars without rifles, where the longest range you had was with the longbow from the walls of the fortress.) and the acting was excellent as well.

and we got some good trailers before the movie started. Ocean's Twelve comes this summer, as does Spiderman 2, and The Chronicles of Riddick, which was Vin Diesel and (implausibly) Dame Judi Dench in the same movie, and lots of things blow up while Vin Diesel beats the crap out of bad guys. what more could a girl want. so this summer's crop of blockbusters is lookin' goood...

Saturday, May 15, 2004

the world is a very strange place

Yahoo! Rumsfeld's 'Poetic' Voice Set to Music

if that don't beat all.

alex is off test driving Weekeong's Ford Taurus, and there are hints that the two boys might just drive themselves to Chinatown and get some food. end result: Char Siew Noodles for Jnet. -pleased- of course, this might not happen, and then all i will have to eat until dinner at Chipotle will be -sigh- yoghurt with granola, and possibly something involving eggs. or leftover chicken soup from last night.

speaking of last night, i popped out to Jimmy's Woodlawn Tap, our friendly neighbourhood bar, last night at elevenish (for Mari's birthday drink) and it was insanely crowded. pstan and i beat Mari there (by a good half hour, i would think) and we seriously couldn't find anywhere to sit when we arrived - couldn't even be barflies because -well the bars were FILLED. we wound up at a counter at the window standing til paul managed to steal a couple of barstools. but it was funtimes. i hadn't been to Jimmy's all quarter -and a good chunk of last quarter come to think of it- so it was fun to be back, and seeing mariangela again -HAPPY BIRTHDAY!- and cheap drinks. oh i'd forgotten how cheap alcohol is at Jimmy's. how -will- i survive in Singapore, land of extremely expensive alcohol: shots, mixed drinks, wine...you name it, you pay through the nose for it. -growly-

anyways. alex and i are going to watch Troy tonight, after a swim at Ratner and dinner at Chipotle (because we both miss the burritos! wonderful fragrant rice, yummy juicy tasty meat, and No Beans on mine) so look out for a possible review later today. (probably not, since i might be too bushed to write it.)

update: running around online i found this site, which is a Stanford database on the fragments of a map of ancient rome. sounds like a really cool project. go take a look, poke around...

Friday, May 14, 2004

ahhh friday

update: i just popped over to Adrian's blog where he's posted something about my alma mater, Raffles Junior College. we're moving to a new campus soon, and the school has been getting alumna to visit and say goodbye to the old campus. of course, it happens that i'm too far away to do these sad goodbye things, which sucks, because i have a lot of good memories invested in that place, and i would like an opportunity to be there one more time and say bye and thank you with all my old friends from school around me. but adrian will have to do that for me. =) so i'll have to settle for looking at adr's pictures and reading what he has to say, and remember all the wonderful days when A01A hung out together in RJ and did -all kinds of crazy things. i miss you guys.

eun: get well soon. =( it's that time when the plague to hit everyone in sight, it seems. hope it isn't hurting your exams any. =(

ah...friday. it's back to being cold, because it's raining, but honestly my complaints about that are few, because the last few nights it has been still and hot and muggy and almost impossible to sleep in, even with my fan going. well perhaps partly because my fan is going - it reminds me of a medevac trying to land on the roof of the U of C hospital, or perhaps of a light attack chopper heading desperately toward a target, or a swarm of mozzies. pick one. it takes me a while to get acclimatised to the sound so that i can fall asleep like i normally do. or tylenol. but waking up from a tylenol-induced sleep in the morning is so much harder than a normal sleep.

anyway it's the end of the week and the weekend looms. lots of work to do and things to write and things to read, but oh well, only another few weeks. and it struck me as i was brushing my teeth this morning (only goes to show what a big problem this is for me) that i don't really have to worry quite so much about the cellie bill for this month because it'll be suspended for the next three months. so i can sort of pretend that i'm just errrrr...paying for the next three months anyway. i know. it's rationalising. but it makes me feel better, dammit, and i don't need to additional stress of worrying about every single text message or phone call on my cellie during non-weekend hours right now. -growl-

in other news, The Economist last week (ending May 8th) has a brilliant, biting article about Proton (the Malaysian car firm that produces absolutely crap cars) and Mahathir that is well worth a read. (brilliant in the sense of 'wonderful' as opposed to 'written by a genius') a quick search of the website turned up another article, written in May 1998, with exactly the same title! (i think i remember reading it.) and that's here, for comparison.

also, am still trying to formulate a BA proposal, although duncan's lack of a response to my email abt whether i can come see him on tuesday leads me to believe that he has either (a) forgotten that he agreed to be my BA advisor and hence doesn't know who i am; or (b) gone out of town again, which is eminently possible since he isn't teaching much this quarter. perhaps he is holed up in canada reading BAs. anyway, how does this sound:

Question:

What is the future of East Asian stability? Are we expecting more institutionalisation (ah, the alphabet soup of institutions) in the future, or perhaps the deepening of functions for the ones that already exist, or will the region remain largely uninstitutionalised, with existing ones taking on few functions mostly of the coordinating sort? (need another word for 'institutionalised' - it sounds like a mental asylum sort of thing)

leave a comment. =)




Wireless Bill Panic Attack

my wireless bill this month is currently $133 and rising. (the end of the billing cycle is Two Weeks Away. i'll be lucky if the bill stays below $150) frankly, i have no idea how i managed to overshoot my plan quite this drastically. but anyway.

so please don't call me unless it's an emergency, but send me an email and i promise to obsessively check my email, as an alternative to obsessively checking my phone. oh, and don't text me either, since that is going to cost me the sun, the moon, the stars and very possibly the earth as well. thanks =)

going to collapse quietly in shock now.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

wednesday afternoon, at last

my hands smell of garlic. it's most disturbing.

anyway, i'm over the midweek hump, despite having the plague and having read ridiculous amounts of European integration stuff over the weekend for today without dying. =) classes today actually went pretty well, since i did the reading for both classes, and managed to answer Mearsheimer reasonably when he picked on me this afternoon. ("Jeanette, what's the real problem in 1945-1950 in Europe?" "Well, it's really what to do with Germany. Because they didn't know what to do with Germany, the Soviets and the Americans started to piss each other off, and we got the Cold War. Is what Trachtenberg is saying." -approving look- -moves on to pick on some other poor soul-)

in fact, as it turns out, what Trachtenberg is REALLY saying is that if the Americans had gotten their shit together earlier and realised that Byrnes had it right, and the final settlement in Europe should include (a) a divided Germany; (b) no nuclear weapons in Germany (damn you, Ike, why didn't you figure that out BEFORE the Berlin Crisis in 1958?) and (c) the Americans staying for the long haul in Europe ('cos it wasn't just the French who wanted them - the Russians wanted them in to sit on top of the crazy Germans too) then we wouldn't have had all the problems of the 1950s/early 1960s. none of this staring-nuclear-war-in-the-face stuff.

which is also, sort of, what McAllister is saying in "No Exit" - the Americans don't have an exit strategy. they're stuck, they can't get out, despite their efforts at integrating Europe to stand up to the USSR and contain Germany. it can't be done. without the American pacifier, you'll have chaos in Europe.

of course, then you have to raise the question of socialisation and institutionalisation - are institutions strong enough to carry on a Cold War order when the structure underlying the Cold War is gone; and is Germany fundamentally a different country today than it was in the 1930s and 40s?

enough rambling and theorising. it's been a really hot day -i have the fan going- and i even managed to spend lunch outdoors (couldn't sing, so avoided Motet altogether this time) with Trachtenberg and an orange, briefly, before finding Jan and Kevin out on the quad. but it's definitely brain meltdown weather - time to take a nap before dinner, i think.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

-sniffle-

yeah, so i have the plague, albeit not in its full-blown craziness like last quarter, with the bodyaches and the chills. instead i have a rather insipid little bad throat, which occasionally flares up enough to trigger a full-blown headache rather than the dull-back of the mind-throb it's been all day.

speaking of all day: i made it through East Asian Security this morning, before i threw in the towel and cut Vice (though i did stop by to drop off the book review and hug janice). then i came home to sleep, after making a detour through Pick to get the BA proposal form from Mimi, and officially join the ranks of the craz...i mean clever people who are polsci majors at the U of C. i'm now on The List. next step: actually write and have duncan sign my BA proposal.

slept the whole merry afternoon through. i wanted a quick nap, but what transpired was full out deep sleep...i woke several times to check the time, but getting up -even to get some water- seemed too hard, so i just rolled over and went back to sleep. at some point, i managed to get up, and drag myself to the kitchen to make dinner. i love having a working oven again. i just dredged some leftover chicken breast through some breadcrumbs and salt and pepper, then baked it in the oven over some chopped up onion carrot and garlic (which i roasted while preparing the chicken for baking). while that was baking, i warmed up leftover pasta (yeah, it's a leftovers theme tonight) with some bottled sauce, and then threw everything together for a nice meal. (it turns out that if you roast whole garlic cloves, then spread them with butter while still warm over freshly toasted bread, it makes a great alternative to garlic bread involving chopped garlic -ok i'm lazy)

i've just spent three hours reading a few chapters of Marc Trachtenberg's A Constructed Peace, but i am finally done with that -and- with McAllister's No Exit. whew.

kevin's dropping by for a visit in a little bit, then it'll be bedtime for me...long day tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

rethinking prostitution

it's hard to rethink anything when you're in no shape to think at all, but i've just spent the last 45 minutes pounding out 1000 words 'reviewing' a book that in turn reviews prostitution in the UK. while reading it this afternoon (intermittently, between singing in Motet, when i really really shouldn't have, and going to the store for ingredients for chicken soup, and taking a short nap while it rained), i came up with -out of the blue- an idea for the final paper for this class, and even managed some enthusiasm for it. (this is the class that i am loathing this quarter - every quarter there is one)

here's the idea, so i don't forget it: compare and contrast the two different methods of dealing with prostitution: (a) forbid brothel prostitution, and other people living off the proceeds of prostitution -ie no pimping and no madams. that's the UK method. (b) brothel prostitution is allowed but streetwalking is strictly verboten. (not that there's an effective way to make it verboten, but let's pretend) eg. Singapore, and bits of Nevada. see if you can find the thin line between the two that will produce acceptable policy. 'cos god knows criminalising prostitution (by women who are of age) is one of the most stupid things you can do. (hmm...i wonder if there will be space for some speculation on male prostitution...)

that out of the way, i can safely crawl into bed with Sagan and Waltz on the nuclear world, and probably fall asleep too. i'm nice and full of ba bao cha, and earlier this evening i made myself a big pot of chicken soup with rice. really easy too -- some chicken broth from Campbells, augmented with lots of carrots, peeled celery, chopped up onions and spring onion, along with some rice, boiled and then simmered until the carrots were soft and tender. in the meantime, baked up some chicken breast marinaded in sesame oil and garlic and pepper seasoning salt, which i then sliced into cubes and added to the soup shortly before consuming copious amounts of it.

i'll be hungry again before i know it.

in the meantime, more reading awaits. but my throat and head hurt, and my eyes are sore...

Monday, May 10, 2004

Happy 22nd Birthday

in chicago-time, it's the morning of the 10th of May, which means it's time for...

Happy Birthday To You
Happy Birthday To You
Happy Birthday Dear AlexandAmos....
Happy Birthday To Yoooooooooouuuuuuuu!


whew. way to run out of breath there, jeanette.

although the birthday is over in Melly where Amos is, i'm still gonna wish him Happy Birthday here again. sounds like you had a good one, hon =)

in other news, i am officially starting alex's cold, with the whole sore-throat-headachy thing...so at least i get to sit out the rehearsal this afternoon (ie not sing, not not-show-up) and maybe get a little more read from Rethinking Prostitution, a study of the British Sex Industry. ah, Vice.

new template!

wow, this new template stuff is fancy! i like it. =) i particularly like the green-ness of this one.

the tagboard is gone -not that i miss it much after it being down for a couple of days now- and i'm not sure that the built-in comments function (which Blogger has finally introduced) is working just yet, but if it isn't i'll get it worked out in the next couple of days. if anyone stridently protests the loss of the tagboard, errrrr...i'll think about putting it back. -grin- otherwise leave comments in associated posts -which is tidier anyway!

it's been hot all day and now it's raining, and the same thing has happened that you would expect to happen in Singapore: there are tiny little flying insects gathering around my desk lamps. only (1) i live on the seventh floor here, not the second; and (2) this is chicago, not the tropics - somehow i expected it not to be buggy here. i am, it seems, mistaken. damn you, insects.

however, they appear to be mostly dead, so...i'm gonna hope they are ALL dead tomorrow, exhausted by the effort of flying up seven stories, squeezing through our screens, and then buzzing around my lamps. bah.

more time-killers

since shereen and dan are wasting their time doing this, i'm jumping on the bandwagon (oh god i can't even TYPE that word without thinking about Mearsheimer. i am losing my mind):

EXOTIC FOREIGNER ALIAS = Favorite Spice + Last Foreign Vacation Spot : Rosemary Bahamas

SOCIALITE ALIAS = Silliest Childhood Nickname + Town Where You First Partied : Nettie Boston? weirdness.

"FLY GIRL" ALIAS (a la J. Lo) = First Initial + First Two or Three Letters of your Last Name : J. Kwe

DIVA ALIAS = Something Sweet Within Sight + Any Liquid in Kitchen : Tic-Tac Corn Syrup

GIRL DETECTIVE ALIAS = Favorite Baby Animal + Where You Last Went to School : Kitten Chicago

BARFLY ALIAS = Last Snack Food You Ate + Your Favorite Drink : Goldfish Martini ('shaken, not stirred')

SOAP OPERA ALIAS = First Pet's Name + Street Where You First Lived : Oxford East Coast

PORN STAR ALIAS = Middle Name + Street You Grew Up On : Huixian Da Silva (it would work so much better if my middle name weren't chinese and unpronouncable by any non-Chinese speaking person)

ROCK STAR ALIAS = Any Liquid on the Bar + Last Name of Bad-Ass Celebrity : Rum Rodman

hmm. most of these do NOT work out very well. and are not really close to what i would pick if i were to pick ones for real. hmm.

reminds me of the time when Coffee Bean had just opened in Singapore, and we were making up the most ridiculous names we could to tell the counter staff to put on our drinks. if i could just remember them...

am really reluctant to do any more work -and- have just discovered that Blogger has updated its format...time for some exploring!

Sunday, May 09, 2004

reality check

"There seems to be an underlying feeling that big media is in bed with the government and have decided on the version of the war you'll see," says MaryAnne Golon, picture editor at Time magazine. "I don't think it applies to Time; we've run some tough images [of the war] in the magazine. But I've heard that criticism over and over."

tell me something i didn't already know.

for more on the wonderful things the US Army is doing in Iraq, wander over to Salon.com and read articles likethis one, which i guarantee will make you sick with rage at how very terribly stupid and cruel and spineless human beings can be.

-sigh-

Saturday, May 08, 2004

The Fog of War

everyone should go and see that movie/documentary.

i don't wanna blog much about it because i really want to watch it again and pay more attention to various things this time. suffice to say that Robert S. McNamara is a much more sympathetic narrator/interview subject that i expected; the footage is compelling (though the dominoes may have been overdone -just a little. i enjoyed watching them though); and the philip glass score was very cool - that's one of the things i want to pay more attention to the second time around. it's well worth the investment of a couple of hours of undivided attention.

having finished the first part of Trachtenberg's A Constructed Peace, i am going to surrender to my headache and go do something else for a while. it's been a relatively good day.


Friday, May 07, 2004

hilarious

adrian's posted something over on his blog that made me laugh out loud. seeing as it's ten am, that's quite a feat. =) go take a look.

speaking of aliens, i forgot to recount the weirdest part of Seminar on Realism on wednesday. we are sitting there, at an impasse discussing balancing against the United States, and Mearsheimer, after a long, thoughtful pause, says:

"What do you think would happen if aliens came to earth?"

-momentary shocked pause-

-hysterical laughter from ninety percent of the room-

"No, seriously. Have you ever considered what would happen? Do you believe in aliens?" -while staring at Keven, the TA-

-room erupts once more into hysterical laughter-

ah, aliens. they're everywhere.

more on teachers

dan makes more remarks over on his blog regarding corporal punishments in schools, public opinion, etcetc. which makes me think about my stand on what teachers should and should not (be able to) do when it comes to disciplining kids.

i'm strongly not in favour of corporal punishment in schools, mostly because of what dan said - that you get kids who do what you want because you told them to, not because it's the right thing to do blahblah-, and what jol said -that it teaches kids not respect but fear and resentment, and that might makes right. though frankly, i can understand the desire for recourse to a fat stick, or in desperate times, a nice fat paperback to smack an uppity brat with. and god only knows our society is full of uppity brats, who have a huge sense of power and entitlement that just makes me want to throw them over a parapet. there are definitely moments when dealing with younger kids (navy brats, and this isn't even in a teacher-capacity) that i really wish i could smack them, or even scream at them with my full eardrumbreaking lung capacity. but i can't, because i'm supposedly older and wiser, and have learned the self-restraint that stops me from cold-clocking bratty teenagers. (which reminds me of our advice to H, when we learned she might be teaching in a scary neighbourhood in chi-town: bring your sticks to your first class and beat the shit out of the biggest kid in class. that'll teach them not to mess with you OR your car)

i digress. how should we keep discipline in schools, if not via corporal punishment, and not via jia1 jiao4 (relying on parents to keep their kids in line)? the trick is for schools, the admin, the MOE, to get behind their teachers and back them up. if a kid's behaviour calls for suspension, give it; if the kid's behaviour calls for expulsion, expell the kid. it's a harsh policy, and some kids are gonna suffer for their mistakes, but if you can't draw a line in the sand and stick to it, then you're lost. the line you draw in the sand can't be unreasonable, but it's gotta be there. the crux of the problem, as dan pointed out, and as far as i'm concerned, is that MOE and the schools are not backing up their teachers in the war-zone...i mean classrooms and corridors of hell...i mean their schools.

i agree with jol to a certain extent: it is desirable for our kids to have respect for the rules because they believe the rules to be right, and teachers and other holders of authority are to be respected because they are worthy of our respect. but i disagree with jol that 'no one deserves respect by virtue of his position'. not every person who is in a position of authority is going to be someone worthy of (my) respect - not every president, prime minister, member of parliament, or principal of a school. but the position which said person occupies is one that is worthy of respect. it's like being loyal to the office of the Prime Minister of Singapore or the President of the United States, rather than to Goh Chok Tong or George W. Bush. i may laugh at bushie, but that doesn't mean i disrespect his position as the Leader of the Free World. -grin- it's unfortunate that these positions of authority are sometimes occupied by clowns, but the fact that the principal is a clown does not give students the right to stomp all over school rules because they don't respect him as a person.

dan is right, and kids today are not the innocent babes that their parents fondly imagine them to be. they are wily and cunning, and they don't care if they are caught; they feel like they can do what they want with impunity because their parents, guilty that they cannot control their own children, will support them against the schools because they refuse to believe their children are monsters. (my parents would never have done that.) but schools are not substitutes for homes and families, and teachers are not substitutes for parents. we can't treat them as such; they have different jobs and different responsibilities.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

you know it's going to be a bad day when the article you are preparing for class has sentences like The front line of defenses in the sector at issue would then include roughly 100 tanks, of which 50 might be the modern Type 88 or K-1, 150 armoured personnel carriers, 400 artillery pieces, 500 mortars, about 10 antitank guns, recoilless rifles, air defenses, antitank weapons such as TOW-2As, and roughly 50,000 troops. and Assume that each allied tank round or antitank weapon had a kill probability of just 0.25 against DPRK tanks... i know i'm a military brat but there are limits beyond which the eyes-glazing-over syndrome sets in.

why am i reading this paper?

comments on haloscan are down - or at least, the ability to post comments is down - due to server updates, on the one afternoon i decide to scroll through comments and make remarks/replies. =) had a good one for the ol' man too, in response to his reply to my comment on his post linking my blog. that was a fun sentence to write. also, a remark on quite another post went onsaid. so perhaps i'll make it here:

in response to the post titled Dumbarse Letters and other delusions, all i have to say is the excerpt that you posted, old man, makes the grammar/english nazi in me cringe and want to break out the whip. ouch. that's a teacher? please, save my children from that kind of abuse of language.

lots of people have pointed out that we demand unreasonable things of our teachers. we want them to discipline and teach our kids, without beating them or even yelling at them - we want them to solve the problems that start at home while undermining their authority in school by going up against them every time our kids come home complaining that they got a low grade or got scolded for not doing their homework. it's ridiculous what we expect our teachers to do, while not giving them the respect their profession used to command, and not paying them nearly what they're worth in terms of the investment they make in our kids' futures. -shrugs-

a big bugbear of mine regarding the entire education system has always been the quality of the teachers, but come on. be honest here. look at the kind of treatment that they get from upstairs -the admin, MOE- and the parents, and the kind of insubordination and lack of respect they face in kids who are just plain uninterested in being educated and are all about getting through sch with straight As and no notion of what learning is all about. look at the other better, more respected, more well-paid jobs they could be doing. are we surprised that good teachers don't come into the system, or if they do, soon leave because it sucks to be in the system and the opportunity costs are so great?

we don't just need to overhaul the education system, let me tell you. we need to overhaul society, and its attitude towards the kids, and towards the institutions that shape the future of our nation. we need parents to back off and let schools and teachers do their jobs of education and socialising children; we need parents to stop undermining authority by backing up their children's ridiculous demands for restitution; we need parents to Do Their Job back home making sure that kids understand the meaning of authority, self-discipline, and obedience.

all right. end rant.

it's been a pretty crummy day - for some reason i haven't felt much like talking in either of my seminar classes, and although i'm pretty sure Sebastian knows i'm not completely stupid despite my not talking, i'm not sure Mearsheimer knows it. he called on me today during discussion of the one piece i hadn't even GLANCED at in the volume we were supposed to read for today, and i was just like 'well, let's see how fast i can read the first page and make something up!' - mumbled something about neoliberal institutionalism, and it turns out to be a constructivist argument. crapola. i'm convinced he thinks i'm stupid AND a slacker now.

oh well. the work never stops. =)

Wednesday, May 05, 2004


Someday, when I'm awfully low
When the world is cold
I will feel a glow just
Thinking of you
And the way you look tonight

Oh, but you're lovely
With your smile so warm
And your cheek so soft
There is nothing for me
But to love you
Just the way you look tonight

With each word, your tenderness grows
Tearing my fear apart
And that laugh that wrinkles your nose
Touches my foolish heart

Lovely, never never change
Keep that breathless charm
Won't you please arrange it
'Cos I love you
Just the way you look tonight

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

I.

“You’d miss the seasons,” I say
casually picking at my unfinished salad
watching fireflies strobelight the lateness
of a summer evening (they tangle
in the brilliant grass, in the canny spiderweb)
“Miss winter?” you reply, vivid eyes
registering only a quizzical incomprehension.
“Why?”

II.

speak, memory:
semi-warm spring shower; a surprised
trumpet of buttery-golden daffodils;
delicate translucent rainbow tulips
(in the sunshine, glowing) delineate
a grey-damp cobblestone

a precision of language
words to describe
the slide of summer
from dog-days slumberous
to apple-crisp fall

the momentary fragile purity born of
snow defining a weary christmas city,
cloaking it in the colour
of a long-lost innocence

III.

the late evening light creeps
behind the low walls,
and the elongated stick-man shadows
remind us that it is time
to part.

I will miss you when I am gone –
when you have left, your shadow-self
a living, laughing thing in my memory;
when you have forgotten my name
and my homeland and my tales
of an eternal summer, broken by rain –
just like you would miss the seasons’
predictable rhythm of change.

Monday, May 03, 2004

to the nice guys of the world

Written for the Wharton Undergraduate Journal (pulled from Adrian's blog)

This is a tribute to the nice guys. The nice guys that finish last, that never become more than friends, that endure hours of whining and bitching about what assholes guys are, while disproving the very point. This is dedicated to those guys who always provide a shoulder to lean on but restrain themselves to tentative hugs, those guys who hold open doors and give reassuring pats on the back and sit patiently outside the changing room at department stores. This is in honor of the guys that obligingly reiterate how cute/beautiful/smart/funny/sexy their female friends are at the appropriate moment, because they know most girls need that litany of support. This is in honor of the guys with open minds, with laid-back attitudes, with honest concern. This is in honor of the guys who respect a girl’s every facet, from her privacy to her theology to her clothing style.

This is for the guys who escort their drunk, bewildered female friends back from parties and never take advantage once they’re at her door, for the guys who accompany girls to bars as buffers against the rest of the creepy male population, for the guys who know a girl is fishing for compliments but give them out anyway, for the guys who always play by the rules in a game where the rules favor cheaters, for the guys who are accredited as boyfriend material but somehow don’t end up being boyfriends, for all the nice guys who are overlooked, underestimated, and unappreciated, for all the nice guys who are manipulated, misled, and unjustly abandoned, this is for you.

This is for that time she left 40 urgent messages on your cell phone, and when you called her back, she spent three hours painstakingly dissecting two sentences her boyfriend said to her over dinner. And even though you thought her boyfriend was a chump and a jerk, you assured her that it was all ok and she shouldn’t worry about it. This is for that time she interrupted the best killing spree you’d ever orchestrated in GTA3 to rant about a rumor that romantically linked her and the guy she thinks is the most repulsive person in the world. And even though you thought it was immature and you had nothing against the guy, you paused the game for two hours and helped her concoct a counter-rumor to spread around the floor. This is also for that time she didn’t have a date, so after numerous vows that there was nothing “serious” between the two of you, she dragged you to a party where you knew nobody, the beer was awful, and she flirted shamelessly with you, justifying each fit of reckless teasing by announcing to everyone: “oh, but we’re just friends!” And even though you were invited purely as a symbolic warm body for her ego, you went anyways. Because you’re nice like that.

The nice guys don’t often get credit where credit is due. And perhaps more disturbing, the nice guys don’t seem to get laid as often as they should. And I wish I could logically explain this trend, but I can’t. From what I have observed on campus and what I have learned from talking to friends at other schools and in the workplace, the only conclusion I can form is that many girls are just illogical, manipulative bitches. Many of them claim they just want to date a nice guy, but when presented with such a specimen, they say irrational, confusing things such as “oh, he’s too nice to date” or “he would be a good boyfriend but he’s not for me” or “he already puts up with so much from me, I couldn’t possibly ask him out!” or the most frustrating of all: “no, it would ruin our friendship.” Yet, they continue to lament the lack of datable men in the world, and they expect their too-nice-to-date male friends to sympathize and apologize for the men that are jerks. Sorry, guys, girls like that are beyond my ability to fathom. I can’t figure out why the connection breaks down between what they say (I want a nice guy!) and what they do (I’m going to sleep with this complete ass now!). But one thing I can do, is say that the nice-guy-finishes-last phenomenon doesn’t last forever. There are definitely many girls who grow out of that train of thought and realize they should be dating the nice guys, not taking them for granted. The tricky part is finding those girls, and even trickier, finding the ones that are single.

So, until those girls are found, I propose a toast to all the nice guys. You know who you are, and I know you’re sick of hearing yourself described as ubiquitously nice. But the truth of the matter is, the world needs your patience in the department store, your holding open of doors, your party escorting services, your propensity to be a sucker for a pretty smile. For all the crazy, inane, absurd things you tolerate, for all the situations where you are the faceless, nameless hero, my accolades, my acknowledgement, and my gratitude go out to you. You do have credibility in this society, and your well deserved vindication is coming.

Fu-zu Jen, SEAS/WH, 2003

It's kind of depressing to see how much of this is true. that there are TONS of nice guys around who are inexplicably single, surrounded by girls who don't see how great they are, who put up with shitloads of nonsense from us illogical creatures. guys who take me to lunch, dinner, coffee, listen to me bitch and whine about how ridiculous other guys are; guys who open car doors and department store doors; guys who drive me around without complaint at two in the morning; and most of all, guys who treat me like another guy instead of a bitchy, whiny girly-girl, even when i am being one - thanks, you guys.

Rent!

since i really should be doing work (that is such a common preface i should just cut and paste it in all my blog entries), this is gonna be really long and rambly to avoid doing it. (also, the Rent soundtrack is playing on the iPod, hooked up to the speakers, providing inspiration for this post.)

so, we went to Rent at the Shubert last night. it was a blast -- i've forgotten how high-energy a good production of Rent can be. =) and certainly, it was a high energy performance. the Roger (Constantine Maroulis) was sort of disappointing, in that he overacted when he wasn't alone, and when he had soliloquys was annoyingly whiny rather than angsty (as a good Roger should be). he came off sounding more like a lost seventeenyearold than someone whose girlfriend 'left a note saying 'we've got AIDS' before slitting her wrists in the bathroom', than someone who is 'living with/living with/not dying from/disease'. it didn't help that his tenor was kind of 'pitchy' -to quote Randy on American Idol- and tended to wind up in his nose with the kind of tone that gives tenors a bad name.

but ahhhhh, the Mark, the Mark. i am in love with the Marks of the world - the geeky, eyeglass-wearing psuedonerd with a striped scarf and raggedly plaid jacket and a smart mouth. our Mark last night was Brian Gligor, and within seconds of his opening his mouth on stage i was riveted. i've always had a soft spot for the Marks of Rent, but Brian was absolutely wonderful. he's got a lovely lovely strong tenor voice, not whiny, very expressive, very powerful, and lots of energy. didn't overact, loved to bounce on and off the table, and had a smile that lit up the stage. lots of sympathy for the character and for the other characters onstage. it was great. those were my favourite moments of the entire show: The Tango Maureen with Rebecca Jones, the Joanne (who i didn't think was ironic enough. i think that was a weakness of this production - that the actors didn't have as finely honed a sense of the ridiculous that i'm accustomed to hearing on the original case recording); La Vie Boheme -they were great moments.

and the sound direction wasn't the best in the world -- the cast was great at diction but there were definitely moments in the ensemble cast singing where it was just totally incomprehensible. and in Act Two the sound director went psycho and boosted the band up so loud that i couldn't hear half of Happy New Year/Voice Mail #3. but watching Rent in an American audience, with bunches of people down in the Orchestra seats who had obviously seen it before, and knew when to clap, and moo, on cue, was great. they were incredibly loud -though janice and alex and i made our fair share of noise up in the nosebleed seats- and enthusiastic. that was great.

all right, time for work. finally. argh. =)