Thursday, December 30, 2004

Life Offline

Since I inadvertently sabotaged my computer at home, I've been enjoying a life unplugged from cybergames. I'm now using a terminal at the public library. How exciting to be among people after so long. Loving the writing life I've been living since my classes ended at the beginning of the month. Will probably be back online (and at home) next week, so expect to hear from me after then. Until then, have a peaceful and blissful new year. Happy birthday, special K. Wybac, Pablo; napisze kilka slow niezadlugo. Wszystkiego najlepszego. Let go my Eggo! (And no, I don't smell like waffles!) Peace.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

New Holiday Flava

Take that, Take That! Laughed my arse off the other night watching MadTV resurrect their version of the Fantanas.

Remanufacturing the totally manufactured group is puro genius; I especially adore Two-Litre Beth--the "new" girl on the beach who can't get enough of that love gravy.

That's 2-Litre Beth in the grape.

Don't you wanta Fanta now? I know you do.

For an interesting history of the soft drink that inspired the Fantanas (as well as some great postmodern decontructionist analysis--"a post-ethnic, multinational, transracial, global village, lip-syncing girl band meets prefab boy band, retro-swinger, Austin Powers/Ocean's 11 semi-camp, quasi-kitsch, virtual nostalgia, club remix, neo-urban, alterna-brand, anti-Cola … vibe"--check out this article from Slate.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004


Top 10 Ludachristmas Awards (in ascending order)

  1. Christmas in July

  2. Snow in Texas (even if it is December) & the people who write about it on their blogs (wink, Lori)

  3. Strangers who ask me if I'm ready for Christmas

  4. The whack-ass clerk at the post office trying to "help" customers by suggestive selling postal insurance & confirmation receipts on every piece of mail

  5. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (although we do secretly love this one!)

  6. Minimally talented pop stars singing bad holiday songs

  7. The miracle of the Christmas fetus

  8. Any "miracle" involving magical babies at this time of year (i.e., Jesus)

  9. Double entendres involving African American comedians & Ho, ho, ho

  10. Unkie Ken for giving a turkey to his No. 1 employee--both men are vegetarians (especially when all the other vegetarians in the office received giftcards!) ¿Cómo se dice tacky?

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Falling Stars

Enjoyed the Geminid Meteor Shower Monday evening by standing out in the cold for about 30 minutes. I saw three falling stars. Several years ago during my first year in Japan, Mr. & Mrs. Mukoyama--the gaijin* wranglers--knew I was quite the amateur astronomer and decided to gather me and the other American professors late one night to search for the optimal site for viewing the 1998 Geminids--supposedly one of the best meteor showers of all times. We drove for hours in the rain and cold, huddled together in the back seat of their tiny Japanese sedan. Finally we parked somewhere along the side of the road and set up telescopes. Why? I don't know, because the cloud covering was so thick you couldn't see a damn thing! We spent hours politely looking through the telescopes, drinking strong coffee, and basically freezing our asses off in the wintry rain. When we finally got in the car to return, things went awry: Mr. Mukoyama, who had seen better days probably several decades earlier, got lost in the fog and winding backstreets of rural Japan. The trip back to our apartments lasted more than three hours. I'm sure I had to get up the next day to teach my classes. Monday's meteor shower was much better.

Tonight I'm looking forward to walking down to Nikola's apartment to celebrate his 30th birthday with the great unwashed Serbian diaspora. (They really are quite clean; I just enjoy using the word "unwashed.")

* The term gaijin (外人) is incredibly offensive to me and other boy-intellectual types; it literally means "outsider." A more appropriate and acceptable term is gaikokujin (外国人)--a person from another country. I always use the 2nd option when speaking to Japanese about non-Japanese. Among other non-Japanese, I typically use gaijin much like African Americans use the term "nigger" among themselves.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Goodbye for Now

Bill Moyers signed off from PBS's weekly news program Now tonight. If you've ever wondered why I never make plans on early Friday evenings between 7:00 - 8:00pm, it's because I have to be home watching this amazing, intelligent, insightful, and compassionate journalist/intellectual. For many years, Moyers has been at the top of my guest list for my fantasy dinner party. He's retiring from this program and will certainly turn up in the not-too-distant future exposing corruption or inspiring awe, empowering the weak or making America a more beautiful and stronger nation. Thanks, Bill. Every chance I get, I sing your praises to my students.

Thursday, December 16, 2004


Is it just because I was so damn tired this morning, or is Depeche Mode's "Never Let Me Down Again" the same song as the theme to The Bugaloos? Both of them had a profound influence on me. And if so, Michael Gore is a friggin' genius!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Szybki numer

Arguably one of the worst films I've ever seen (next to Sideways), The Quickie tries to pass itself off as a thriller. I saw the DVD at Premier Video last night when Stephen & I went to rent some britcoms to get us through the lackluster evenings of ever increasing darkness and boredom. Sarah and I saw it at the kino at the Palace of Culture (PKiN) in Warsaw. What better place to see a horrible Russianesque film than Stalin's gift to the Polish nation? We spent days laughing about the soundtrack. "Sataaaannnnnnn!" should always be so funny!

Despite working with a huge word deficit, I'm managing to get the novel written. Don't ask me too much about it, 'cause I'm not supposed to tell.

Exercised this weekend, thanks to motivation and sunny weather. Walked and jogged at White Rock Lake Saturday morning for about 40 minutes. Sunday, Stephen, Nick & I rollerbladed the entire length of the Katy Trail. That took slightly more than an hour.

Tomorrow I complete my humanities course with an exam, grading, and some minor paperwork. I'll write another quickie in the next few days.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

'Nough Said

"You go to war with the army you have."

-Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense

Friday, December 10, 2004

Deconstructing Remembrances of Things Nutella-ed, or I’d Like to Teach the World to Spread

The Politics of Nutella, IHT

Ah, so many sweet, early morning breakfasts with gooey and nutty Nutella spread across slices of bread or eaten directly from the knife as it exited the jar. My forays abroad have always brought out those tendencies inside me to deny all things américain and, like the honest chameleon, adapt, adapt, adapt to my surroundings, surrounding myself in the local colour (as it were…) so that I am one with all that is, which (simply put) means I eat several kilograms of the good stuff when I’m in Europe. And like the beautiful Europeans (and my inner Euro-Frankie), I don’t gain an ounce.

Breakfast this morning with Tami & her family at El Jordan was just as tasty and just as glocally-defined: migas a la mexicana. And a huge pitcher of agua de horchata to go. And like my fat compatriots (and my inner fat-Frankie), I feel stuffed and bloated now.

Turned in grades for my government courses last night. I have to give my humanities final Thursday, but until then (and afterwards, until mid-January), I’ll be busy catching up with my word quota for the novel as well as working on smaller projects & goals. I love my students, and I’ve already started missing some of them, knowing I probably will never see most of them again. Pebbles in the ocean. Water in water.

Wednesday I spent the majority of my energy and time working toward not giving in to my sour mood brought about by minor professional setbacks. When it came time for bed, I started reading long entries from old journals & notebooks. Such funny stories & events, and forgotten poems, songs, and pieces of music! We were up laughing and reminiscing until past midnight, and we went to bed much happier. Here’s a poem I wrote on the ferry from Okinawa to Fukuoka on December 29, 1998:

East China Sea

I’m done
With not knowing the good I should do;
With knowing the bad I have done.
Though certain neither is much concerned
With paying 500 yen for bad coffee &
Texas toast (or writing bad poetry)
On a slow boat from Okinawa.
There hasn’t been a good war
In my lifetime.
But even I feel destroyed
And rebuilt like
Europe, like Okinawa:
The grass doesn’t grow so deep there yet.
The bullet pits in the graveyard,
Buried in the shell of a tortoise.
The sun shines on the empty islands,
But my hands freeze.

Monday, December 6, 2004

Echo Chamber

A huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders now that my graduate course is over and all assignments submitted. Now comes the hard part about making more decisions regarding the ever elusive Ph.D.

Happy St. Nicholas. Today is his feast day, according to the Catholics at least. I got my treats yesterday from Stephen's mother: nuts, chocolate-covered nuts, white chocolate-covered nuts, tangerines, an orange, an apple, and two bags of dried fruit (I forget what kind). Afterwards, we browsed Half-Price Books's art/art history section before heading to Shayne's place with beaujolais nouveau in tow. (Well, Stephen and other Francophones within my blogosphere, did I spell that correctly? I should hope so: I've been drinking the stuff since Thanksgiving 1998 in Osaka, after returning from the UN Conference on Human Rights in Asia. Ah! my life used to be so interesting!)

Finally heard from Sonia. She's been busy writing a play ever since the Sheik died. I was afraid she had been murdered and buried beneath the sands outside of Dubai. The after-school drama entitled Bitter Baklava starred Meryl Streep as Juanita (her mother) and Jennifer (pronounced Hennifer) Lopez (pronounced Lopeth) as Soniacita, and promised to win at least one Emmy. I guess I'll have to put that story on the back burner while I instead try to meet today's quota of words for my novel.

Right now, my belly is growling at the people sitting next to me in the library, so I should hurry and pick up Stephen from work for lunch. See you!