Friday, 30 May 2008

It's Go Time

You know you're getting close to exams when your to-do list involves things like looking up whether they're spelled "penis sheaths" or "penis sheathes." And this is why social anthropology is the best discipline ever.

UPDATE: It's penis sheaths. It's a good thing these start on Monday. I've been making flash cards for six hours, because I stopped developing my study habits when I was twelve years old. (I've also decorated a stack of ethnographies with pink Post-Its, which cost twenty pence more than yellow Post-Its but there is so little excitement in my life at the moment that it was twenty pence well-spent.)

No Laughing Matter

I need a really good joke by Sunday, so this is everybody's chance to shine. It's one of the requirements for running for a position in our MCR, and since I'm running unopposed, it really just has to be witty enough (and offend few enough people) that everyone won't vote to reopen nominations. It's sad that I need help to not lose to myself, but there you go.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

In Which I Unexpectedly Empathize with Rachel Ray

I've always disliked Rachel Ray because she smiles too much and cooks with Triscuits, but I did feel really bad for her when Dunkin Donuts dropped her ad after Michelle Malkin freaked out because she was wearing what appeared to be a kefiyah. Since the only thing I dislike more than the Jokeresque grin of Rachel Ray is the smug, self-satisfied smirk of Michelle Malkin, I sent iPhoto love to Rachel to let her know that I think people are crazy and irrational and should maybe spend less time panicking over DONUT ADVERTISEMENTS.

And you know what, Michelle? Rachel Ray may run on poppers and granulated sugar, but America runs on Dunkin. And by the transitive property (or something), that means a) that you hate America and b) that Dunkin Donuts, one of those wacky Hollywood liberals, the Palestinians, a gay guy living in England, and most taxpaying residents of Massachusetts are more American than you are. Oh, you so just imploded.

Traditioooon! TRADITION!

It was Mini-Week at my elementary school yesterday, where all the students take short classes on fun things that they don't get to teach you as an eight year old Catholic. (It's pretty benign stuff, so there aren't any classes on family planning or multifaith theology, but maybe someday!) They had a feature on it in the Forum today, including a picture of a bunch of kids getting their homemade rosaries blessed in one of the classrooms. I got a little nostalgic.

I totally made rosaries (twice), and learned how to do karate, and make stained glass, and plant trees, and conduct electricity, and play a variety of unconventional instruments. Today, I've been sitting up and reading legal theory, and just came to the depressing realization that Mini-Week might be more practical than graduate school.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Um, Crank This

Earlier today, I jokingly mentioned referencing this (NSFW) item on Gawker at dinner, because I'm so rarely updated on my friend's lives in any medium that involves infamous gossip sites and photos of them with bodily fluids on their faces. When the conversation turned to having your nipple bitten at a dive bar in Montana and the actual meaning of the lyrics of Soulja Boy's Crank That, it occurred to me that I might actually have an opening that I didn't have to artificially manipulate into being. But I kept my mouth shut, because we were having potato soup at the time and even I've got a tiny shred of self-restraint when the moment calls for it. Luckily, that's why Al Gore invented the internet.

Distraction from Rainstorm and Reglementation Pie

The latest item on my list of things to do someday is to go to a flavor-tripping party, which was featured in the NYT today. The trick is to get miracle fruit, which rewires your taste buds so that your receptors for sour tastes shut down and things like pickles and tequila taste sweet. Aside from being a total trip, it'd be a great way to clean out my cupboards at the end of this year when I'm left with oatmeal, a can of lentils, and broccoli - it's social and practical at the same time! (I don't know where I'd get miracle fruit at Oxford, so if anyone's coming over and wants to swallow a condom full of them or something, that'd be swell. The worst that could happen is that it would burst and you'd throw up, but even then it would taste pretty good so it's sort of a win-win.)

Barring that, I just went to a dinner party where the desserts were variations on the Falling In Love Chocolate Mousse Pie and Pregnant Miserable Self-Pitying Loser Pie from Waitress, which I saw (and really liked!) last summer in DC. (We were going to go see Emily Skinner and Marc Kudisch in The Witches of Eastwick, but it was sold out and Waitress was a surprisingly good consolation prize.) The pies were perfect, which is why I sort of feel like I'm going to throw up and I'm reviewing H.L. Hart and Max Weber until I've digested enough to go to bed. That might be awhile, so here are recipes to play along at home. My healthy blend of euphoria and misery, as always, loves company.

1 packet (450g) shortcrust pastry
200g blueberries
190g caster sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon cornflour
100ml water
3 eggs, beaten
170g demerara sugar
280ml glucose syrup
170ml double cream
6 tablespoons butter, melted
125g uncooked rolled oats
100g finely chopped fruitcake
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tbsp brandy

1. Line a 25cm loose-based tin with approximately two thirds of the shortcrust pastry. Reserve the trimmings. Chill the pastry case in the fridge until ready to use.

2. Heat the blueberries, 40g of the caster sugar and the lemon juice in a saucepan until the juices begin to run from the fruit. Mix the cornflour with the water, then stir a little of the hot juices from the pan into the cornflour mixture. Stir this mixture back into the pan and continue stirring until thickened. Set aside to cool.

3. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/ Gas Mark 4.

4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, demerara sugar, remaining caster sugar, glucose syrup, cream, butter, oats, fruitcake and vanilla extract. Mix well and stir in the blueberry mixture. Pour into the prepared pastry case.

5. Roll out the remaining pastry and cut into long strips about 2cm wide. Create a lattice on top of the blueberry filling, by laying out the strips of pastry at 2 cm intervals across the pie, turning the pie 90 degrees and adding a second row of pastry strips to form a criss-cross pattern.

6. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 45 minutes or until browned and set.

7. Pour the brandy onto the hot pie and set fire to it carefully with a match. Allow the alcohol to burn off and serve.

Makes 8 servings.

1 x 20cm cooked sweet pastry case
1 (400g) can condensed milk
170ml water
150g caster sugar
40g cocoa
20g cornflour
30g plain chocolate
570 ml double cream, stiffly whipped, plus extra for decoration

1. In large saucepan, combine the condensed milk, water, caster sugar, cocoa and cornflour, whisking until smooth.

2. Over a medium heat, add the chocolate and stir continuously until it melts and the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat and beat until smooth. Leave to cool and refrigerate for 15 minutes before folding in the double cream.

3. Pour the mixture into prepared pastry case and chill for 4 hours or until set. Decorate with whipped cream and serve.

Makes 6 servings.

(And thanks to Beauty and the Dirt for the recipes!)

Scratch That

Okay, so maybe Nunn would actually be a terrible choice for VP. I don't remember the debate over Don't Ask, Don't Tell. I wasn't politically conscious at the age of nine. With that, I'm wholeheartedly throwing myself behind the Obama-Love ticket in 2008.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

The Power of Suggestion

I was walking to my last lecture of the year today and got a text from Abby, saying that she'd handed in her dissertation and was going for lunch at Pieminister. Without missing a beat, I spun on my heel and met her for a pie. This officially makes me a) the weakest person ever, b) very, very fulfilled, and c) nominally less informed about ethnicity and nationalism.

I had the Heidi Pie, which is goat's cheese, sweet potato, spinach, red onion, and roasted garlic in pastry, squashed into a bed of mashed potatoes and topped with minty peas. I've had lamb every other time that I've gone because it seems heartier somehow, but today I went vegetarian and it was still totally filling. I figured that watching Sweeney Todd had turned me off any remotely carnivorous pies for a while, but considering that I ordered a pie called Heidi, that theory doesn't really hold water.

Showing Some Reggie Love

I saw this in the IHT, and it's about the cutest story ever. I kind of want Reggie Love to be president.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Nor Do I Do Reiki on Pallets

I can't even guess how Google personalized these ads, but this somehow makes me feel vaguely bad about myself. I skipped ONE DAY at the gym today, and I'm getting targeted about stretch marks.

The End of the World as We Know It

"Sorry, I've been stockpiling food in my room."
"Any particular reason?"
"I outgrew my cupboard in the kitchen. If the world ends, though, you know where to find snacks."
"Well, if I find myself dodging sniper fire on St. Aldates, it's good to know that we've got a healthy stockpile of All Bran."

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Grasping at Straws

I went to Cambridge yesterday for a conference on progressive policy in energy, education, and health care, which was 1) beautiful and 2) hella refreshing. One of the things I miss most about Harvard was the depth and breadth of progressive thought that encountered as an undergrad - I spent a staggering amount of time on queer issues, but I hung out in circles where reproductive rights, racial and economic justice, immigration, and human rights were also discussed a lot. Here, I talk about that stuff one-on-one with people, but I haven't found that kind of community where I'm engaging by osmosis. So it was healthy and invigorating, even if Leana and I spent as much time on the train as we did at the actual conference.

It was also my last commitment for the next two weeks, because exams start a week from tomorrow and I've cleared my schedule so I can read until my eyes bleed. You can tell when I'm in lockdown mode because the highlights of my day are located closer and closer to my bedroom, where I am currently eating, sleeping, working, and occasionally laying on my bed and doing breathing exercises to stave off panic attacks while listening to the melodic song-stylings of Antony and the Johnsons. Today, I finished the whole NYT Sunday crossword, looked over approximately 300 pages of notes, and the climax of my day was when I tried out the asparagus and chestnut mushrooms that I splurged on at Sainsbury's (they cost a total of four pounds, so take "splurge" with a grain of salt) in the stir-fry I made for dinner. It's not that sad that I tried something new, but it is sad that it was easily the highlight of my day. Like, hands down.

Friday, 23 May 2008

Sleep, Eternally

Also, I should probably go to sleep because I have to meet Leana at the crack of dawn tomorrow to hop a train to Cambridge, but I can't because I was just hanging out with Erika in the kitchen and eating Fruit 'n' Fibre out of the box and I accidentally swallowed a flake whole, and it lodged sideways in my throat and I got all watery-eyed, and now I'm worried that I'm bleeding internally and that if I fall asleep I'll choke on my own blood and die. And I should at least text Leana to let her know that I might not make it, because that's only polite.

Putting the 'Ho' Into Homelessness

So remember how I was excited to live in a proper flat next year, even if I was sort of living in a glorified closet? It turns out that I'm not. Apparently, I can't just get tacked onto the lease as a fifth roommate because the occupancy of the house is limited to four people and there are actually regular inspections to confirm this. Instead, the landlord wants the four people on the lease to pay the full amount of the rental, and then for me to pay about 300 pounds a month to stay as a "guest" (which may or may not be legally recognized as a category of occupant) in my cubicle-sized room. I got an email from Genevieve panicking about this when I woke up this morning, called to get the deets, and decided to stay in my college's housing, where I will a) have ample room to dance when the mood strikes me, and b) not have to do any extra reading about squatters' rights. I coped just like I always do - I lounged in my pajamas with toast and my study guide until I finally showered and put on my favorite ill-fitting muscle shirt and a different pair of pajama pants at, oh, 3pm. I punctuated it with episodes of Family Guy. Now that I'm typing this, it might be a good thing that I'm not living in a flat next year, because I'm not sure I'm grown up enough to do that. I'm actually kind of a baby.

Be Still, My Heart

If I was already ridiculously excited for the film adaptation of Get Smart in July and practically making an advent calendar to count down to the premiere of Nine in, um, about a year and a half, there is nothing on Earth that will keep me from seeing Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li. I was totally one of those Nintendo playing boys who was always the Princess in Mario II and MarioKart, that angry girl with the rage problems in Guitar Hero, and Chun-Li in Street Fighter. (Whatevs, girl kicks so fast you can't even see her foot.)

Thursday, 22 May 2008


I just saw the headline "Star Dies an Explosive Death" on CNN and clicked on it thinking they were referring to Star Jones.

The article was disappointing.

In Which I Smother Those I Love

I half-jokingly said that I bought my fern to replace human affection, because it's sort of true. I hate the feeling of being the only thing alive in my otherwise sterile bedroom, and since I'm not exactly bringing in boatloads of overnight guests, I needed something similarly lively and potentially disposable. So I bought a fern.

Unfortunately, after about a week, I noticed that a couple of the fronds seemed really dry, and then they started to yellow and curl, and then they started to fall off. I emailed my grandma in a panic, and she suggested that ferns do best in the shade and I might have killed it by putting it on my windowsill in direct sunlight. Oops. So I ditched the pot in my bathroom so that it wouldn't leave a mess as it withered and died all over the place, and decided not to press my luck with a replacement for the last couple of weeks of the term. (I promise that I'm more attentive to people. I don't let them expire in a corner and sometimes, I'll even make them eggs.)

And then today, I got out of the shower and noticed that my fern is totally thriving in the dark corner of my bathroom, and looks awesome. It's not exactly where I would have put a plant if it were my choice, but everyone who sees my bathroom next to my tiny bedroom comments on how big it is, which sucks because I can't really decorate it or use it because it's my bathroom, not a surrogate lounge. Apparently, the answer is a fern. Who knew?

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Primary Colors

I would pee if the ticket was Obama-Nunn in 2008. Not because I agree with Sam Nunn on a lot of issues, but because I spent the better part of my sixteenth year on the planet arguing about the wonkier ins and outs of nuclear disarmament policy and the man is a rockstar. If he lets everyone keep getting abortions and gay marrying, I'd let him keep me safe from accidental launches any day.


Although my hair hasn't started falling out yet (give it about a week), I've been sleeping terribly over the past two weeks because I'm stressed out about exams - I go to sleep around 1 or 2am, but then I wake up around 7 or 8am at the tiniest ray of sunlight or traffic noise and when I blink and think of all the work I have to do to be ready for exams, I can't fall back asleep. I tried resetting my sleep cycle with a sleeping pill and that didn't seem to work (and I'm not trying it again, because developing a prescription drug addiction is not a forward-thinking solution), and I've basically been forcing myself to stay in bed and nap until I've approximated a full night's sleep. Still, sleeping in forty-minute intervals sucks.

And to make matters worse, I saw my supervisor today and he expressed concern that I looked so well-rested and put-together. I couldn't tell if he was joking or not - and I'd normally just take that as a compliment, but a) he seemed to think I'd been spending my time tanning and watching lesbian sitcoms instead of studying, which I emphatically have not been doing since I finished the latest season of the L Word last week, and b) this means I must look terrible most of the year. Tonight, I was telling this story to a friend of mine who was like, "you do look very sun-kissed" and I was like, "thanks, you sadistic jerk."

I really need sleep.

Monday, 19 May 2008

The Perks of Bullet-Pointing 350 Pages of Notes

One of our professors suggested that we go through our notes and whittle them down repeatedly until we have about a page of key points for each of our four exams. I wasn't going to argue with him, because exams at Oxford terrify me. Still, I started to stress out after it took almost a week just to weed out the obviously unnecessary parts from my 350 pages of single-spaced notes, because I think you're ideally supposed to have time at the end to actually look over the finished product. But I kept on keeping on and started bullet-pointing the 150 pages that remained, which is also taking an absurdly long time.

And then tonight, out of nowhere, I was bullet-pointing and realized that I understood Levi-Strauss for the first time in my life. (I'm not totally thick, I got the part about binaries and underlying structures. I just sort of glossed over the distinctions between phonemic systems and systems of terminology and systems of attitudes and the a : b, b1 : b2 thing.) It was like a light turned on and it all made sense and for the first time ever, I don't think Levi-Strauss is completely mad. I do have a migraine, but that's fine. Apparently, that's part of this "learning" that people keep talking about. Fascinating!

It's Quiet. Too Quiet.

You know when things seem to go perfectly and you get a sneaking suspicion that something is about to go horribly, horribly wrong? Today's shaping up to be one of those days, to the point that I'm having a hard time sitting back and enjoying it. I just got an email from Blackwell's saying that they ordered all my textbooks for my course this summer, and it appears that I might be working with researchers at a university in Manila and won't just have to wing it when I do my fieldwork this summer. Abby dropped by my room the other day to give me a can of minestrone from Marks and Spencer just because, and I just ate it with toast and it was delicious. They had free samples of chocolate chunk shortbread at Starbucks today. Days like today are the only times when I start to irrationally fear snipers.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Teamwork is Scary and Effective

I laugh, but I'm going to have nightmares about that face. I did see one of the joint fundraising ads for the Democratic Party with both of them on it, though, and my heart grew three sizes.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

A Couple of Observations

Some thoughts:
1. I'll admit that my mom doesn't look half bad in a skort. And I hesitate to say this, but my mom has impressive legs.
2. HOWEVER, my grandma appears to be wearing a fanny pack, which means that we are going to have to have an old-fashioned family sit-down over Christmas that will quickly turn into an intervention hosted by yours truly and the cast of What Not to Wear. That, or I'm just going to save my hard-earned sterling and burn everyone's clothes. You're welcome, family!
3. Grandma can't crop a photo to save her life.
4. My mom just ran a half marathon, and she's a rockstar. (Let's hope that that's genetic, because I feel cheated if all I inherited was her swanlike shoulders and questionable taste.)

Friday, 16 May 2008

This is Where Some Type of Batsignal Would Come in Handy

I just got off the phone with my mom, who's running her first half-marathon tomorrow. First of all, I'm very proud of her. Second of all, I told her she's going to have to run next year, because she just told me that she bought a skort for the occasion. And when I went, "um... a skort?" she enthusiastically said, "it's half-skirt, half-shorts!" as though I was the one with the problem. I had to tell her that I knew what a skort was, but that I couldn't let her wear one in public in good conscience. (I wasn't mean about it, though. I said that she could wear it, but only if she was being picked up by Christopher Lloyd and taken back to the 1980s in a flying car.)

Seriously, a skort!? It's moments like these that a gay son viscerally feels every one of the thousands of miles between himself and his mother. If she starts running in LA Lights and Zubaz, I'm buying a ticket to Fargo.

Grab a Screwdriver, You Tool

I just started writing a frantic email to Apple asking what you're supposed to do if you spill Evian on your MacBook, and then I realized that they'd probably just write back that you deserve it. And they would be right.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

A Change Would Do You Good

In the past 48 hours, I was asked if I wanted to shack up with three of my friends next year, took a look at the flat where they're living, thought it over for an afternoon, and said yes. I think this falls in the good decision camp, except that my bedroom is tiny and I may or may not fit in the bed. Whatevs, I sleep in a ball anyway. The important thing is that we have a garden and we're in a neighborhood that's heavily serviced by diasporic supermarkets, and these are criteria I look for in a commune.

Sing It, Edith

I realized today that I reach a point where I'm so stressed that the gloves come off and I make questionable decisions for the sake of making decisions. One of the better ones was picking a lecturer for my course, who's supposed to be charismatic and lectures about a topic (the evolution of radio in Britain) that I know approximately nothing about and will gladly outsource to someone else. In contrast, one of my bad decisions was trying to book flights to Manila all day, being snapped at by a woman who insisted I wouldn't find a better price than the one she was offering over the phone, and then buying a ticket that was $40 more expensive from Expedia out of pure, unadulterated spite. I definitely spent about $400 more than I intended (which I'll probably regret at some point), but it's worth it to have the dates I wanted, a single layover in Abu Dhabi, arrival and departure times that aren't around 2am, and actual plans instead of a giant question mark on my to do list. Deciding to break for coffee and multigrain toast with strawberry jam was a good choice; taking an hour off to read the Guardian was probably a bad choice. You get the idea.

I was especially hellbent on making progress today because I have my meeting with the Warden tomorrow at 9am, and last time, I tried to explain to him why I thought it would be a good idea to teach myself Spanish via podcast instead of listening to Alanis Morissette all the time. I don't think I made my point forcefully enough, because he seemed unconvinced. So tomorrow, it'll be nice to have concrete plans, even if they were partially formed out of malice for someone I've never met and ended up costing a small fortune. I'm going to keep that to myself.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Stress, As Usual

If anyone wants to make my life easier, they could:

a) find cheap tickets to Manila from late July to late September,
b) tell me everything I need to know about structuralism,
c) find a guest lecturer for my course this summer, and
d) throw a birthday party so I have an excuse to eat ice cream.

Luckily, Ginger just turned 25 and made D. happen, and I spent part of the evening at G&Ds drowning my stress in Dime Bar ice cream and a cake from the Covered Market with a well-proportioned mermaid on the top. (It turns out that the mermaid was appropriate, since Ginger casually mentioned that she's swimming the Strait of Gibraltar this summer. She says things like this in roughly the same tone of voice I use to say that I'm breaking in a new pair of shoelaces.) And now, someone's camera has a video of me being handed a piece of mermaid's torso, tossing it into my mouth, and offhandedly commenting that breasts are soft and taste like marzipan. When this leaks onto the internet and destroys my career, I hope someone has the decency to edit in a shooting star and the "The More You Know" theme.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

For Everything Else

- tanktop and pair of Umbro shorts: £5.99
- membership at Bourton Mills: £30/month
- grande iced americano from Starbucks: £1.90

- getting simultaneously buzzed from caffeine, endorphines, and an over-the-shoulder smile from some guy on your way back from the gym: priceless

(I'd attribute this to my credit card, but I think it has more to do with the fact that Oxford is exponentially more magical when you're not bundled up in a peacoat and mittens.)

Monday, 12 May 2008

The Best Part of Waking Up

In an attempt to relive my sweltering, underpaid summer in DC, I went online and found last year's recipe for cold press coffee that basically changed my life. I'm self-aware enough to know that this won't actually save me any money, it just means that I'll keep getting an iced americano every afternoon at Starbucks, go home, and pour myself a cup of the homemade stuff. And this is how I trick myself into overdraft yet again.

Overheard at Rhodes Ball

"Parties like this are the only times that I look at everyone else and think that I'm relatively normal."

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Dancing Queen

After last night's hip-hop bop in Hertford (the last of the year, now that the entz ban has gone into effect and we're not allowed to throw parties that might disrupt exams), I bounced out of bed this morning, picked up a somewhat gross amount of coffee at Starbucks, and then walked down to Ginger's dance competition at Iffley. I made it early enough to get front-row seats for the ballroom portion, and then joined up with everyone else for the Latin portion and all of the jiving and cha-chaing that that entails. I don't know how it ended up, but I do know that Ginger can dance like a mofo. And watching it made me want to take up dance next year - mostly because I'd have an excuse to wax my chest and wear tight bellbottoms and get approving nods for it. It's the best sport ever!

And now I'm off to the Rhodes Ball, which is the final event of my Trinity Term social calendar. After this, the hardcore studying starts - for that reason, I plan to pay no attention to the little voice that tells me when I'm making inappropriate conversation, eat one of everything at the dessert buffet, treat the dance floor like I would at Baby Love, and generally behave like a child. Yay!

Friday, 9 May 2008


After getting like five hours of sleep yesterday, I got up this morning, grudgingly shuffled to the shower, and plodded out the door into the chilly, overcast weather to Marks and Spencer to pick up a batch of pain au raisins and coffee. The pain au raisins were for everyone I was going punting with. The coffee was so that I wouldn't fall asleep in mid-punt and drown in a shallow river, thereby killing and embarrassing myself at the same time.

I'd never gone punting before - and granted, since you're supposed to drink and do it in the sunshine, doing it at 9am on a cloudy day didn't seem like the best way to try it for the first time. But the clouds parted before we got to the river and someone brought wine, so that turned out okay. The water was really calm and we saw ducklings that were so young that they were still fuzzy, and when we weren't being laughed at by everyone in the Social Science Library, we did a pretty convincing job. That was not at all thanks to me, since I ran us aground about a half dozen times because it is way harder than it looks. I'm glad I lost my punting virginity with Leana because she was kind enough not to laugh at me. It wasn't just that I kept drifting from bank to bank, I got stuck in a tangle of plants in the river and then almost got swept off the back of the punt by an overhanging branch that caught my chest. If I was that bad at actually losing my virginity, I owe someone an apology.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Back to Nature

I can't remember the last thing I've done that's felt quite as primal as going to the gym, stripping down to my underwear, and potting a fern in my shower. It looks great, which is more than I can say for myself when I'm half-naked and covered in mud.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Quit While You're Ahead

I just finished a draft of my second essay for tomorrow and proofread the draft of my first one, and the first one is good. I suspect that this is because I'm so tired that my eyes don't focus and I'm perpetually dizzy, but I think I'm going to quit while I'm ahead. And if I sleep now, Obama will still have a shot at winning Indiana. I'm going to pretend that I'm a good writer and that this primary will end tomorrow and dream about glitter and ponies before my alarm goes off and I find that I've misspelled everything and the primary will last until both candidates lose to McCain in the worst three-way ever in November and everything sucks a little worse.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Cinco de Mayo!

Unexpected result of moving to the UK #254: I've become a Mexican nationalist.

Who knew that I could miss actual tortilla chips so much? Or that I would be deeply distressed that nobody was celebrating Cinco de Mayo with really cheap, completely inauthentic margaritas? Abby and I went to The Mission for burritos for lunch, and I had a fajita and carnitas burrito that I repeatedly tasted in burp form for the rest of the afternoon, but which was (as far as burritos go) nothing short of a masterpiece. (Did I eat the bottom of Abby's chicken and guacamole burrito with a fork, even though I was already sort of in the throw-up zone? Maybe I did, and MAYBE I DID.)

I remember a bunch of the Rhodes Scholars trying to recreate quesadillas and chips y salsa in a fit of nostalgia and basically pulling it off except for these weird, bastard Doritos that only approximated tortilla chips, and I felt a stirring of pride when R. Dave made tacos and Erika had the first taco of her life. It was like watching the miracle of birth, except it was cleaner and less terrifying. (At least, it was until the casserole dish we were using to heat the taco shells exploded on the stove, at which point it was basically a wash.)

That being said, there are two things wrong with this picture:

First of all, Cinco de Mayo is not celebrating Mexican independence, as Mexico celebrates its independence on September 16th. Secondly, I can't believe that you get a free burrito for dressing like a Mexican. I should have just pointed to my tee-shirt and been like, "um, you'll notice that this is green, which was the color of Che Guevara's freedom fighters when they ousted Napoleon at the Battle of San Juan Hill. You know, on Cinco de Mayo."

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Cat Fancy

Since I'm trying (desperately) to live in North Oxford and not in the Graduate Centre next year, I spent the afternoon with R. Dave, Debs, and Mark touring houses. It was cute, and the houses were great - which means that if there isn't space in one of them and I do end up back in the Grad Centre, it's going to be that much more painful. (To put this in context, I described my green bedspread, red carpet, red and off-white furniture and multicolored, multipatterned blue, red, green, and yellow curtains to a friend of mine, and he commented that it sounded like a bag of Skittles had exploded and dried. This is what I'm trying to avoid for next year.)

On the way back, we stopped at Green's Cafe and got to talking about ROFLCon and memes, and it occurred to us at some point that cats are way overrepresented on the internet. Like, there are LOLcatz, Stuff On My Cat, social networking and cat profiles at Cat Fancy, and (in the worst of taste), Kitlers. We decided that this is because the Venn diagram of "people who own too many cats" and "people who spend too much time on the internet" is basically one enormous circle.

To remedy this, I've been repeatedly watching the video of the sleepy bear, which has been terrible for my productivity. Not just because I'm watching bears instead of proofreading this article, but because it makes me want to slowly fall asleep and mash my face into my laptop. Might have done that a couple times tonight.

Saturday, 3 May 2008

It's Like a Robin!

I can't believe that it's taken me this long to break out my two-toned, black and turquoise velvet long-sleeved hooded tee. Um, it must be spring?


I think I've finished my syllabus for this summer, after substituting things like "is pop culture distracting us from inequality?" for alternatives like "to paraphrase Marx, is pop culture the trendy club drug of the masses?" If my students go back to the US and their takeaway lessons are a crash course in socialist theory and the fine distinctions between ketamine and MDMA, something tells me their parents will be not be pleased.

Friday, 2 May 2008

Pop Quiz

I'm putting together a syllabus for a class I'm teaching this summer on pop culture, and I spent a good chunk of this week trying to brainstorm major moments in pop culture - especially in the last twenty years - that every self-respecting young adult should know. As a result, I've taken to asking every person I've run into what they consider to be the really unforgettable milestones, and the answers are super-fascinating. It's like making them look at blots of ink, except the blots tend to look like things like Calista Flockhart.

I'm making a list, and you get bonus points if it's (a) something I can reproduce for the class or show on a projector, and (b) something socially impactful like the first interracial kiss on Star Trek or Pedro Zamora living with HIV/AIDS on The Real World. Still, there are no right answers, so I'll also take things like the series finale of Seinfeld or Vanessa Williams, Richard Hatch, and Janet Jackson flashing various parts of their naked selves if that's really what struck you the most. Especially if you were struck blind.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Step Away from the Altar

I should preface this by saying I've talked to a couple of people who had this reaction and I don't feel quite as crazy as I did at the time, but I was reading Benoit Denizet-Lewis's piece on young, married gay couples and as soon as I read about the Brandons, I found myself thinking that I kind of want to get married. Like, now. And then I checked myself before I wrecked myself, and slowly closed my computer and went for a walk to clear my head.

SINCE WHEN HAVE I WANTED TO BE MARRIED. And why do I find the Brandons particularly adorable!? Hell, as a matter of principle, I don't think people should be allowed to date people who have the same name as them. (I've kept this as a hard and fast rule for years, and while I know a couple named Brian and Ryan and I'll grudgingly let that slide, I've voiced disapproval for unique spellings like Chris and Kris and bilingually equivalent couples like Michael and Miguel.) I did eventually finish the article and even though I was wracked with guilt, I still had this nagging sense of cuteness that I couldn't shake. I felt like I should take a cold shower or something, but instead, I looked at divorce statistics. Maybe I could settle for a boyfriend and a sunny kitchen to host the occasional vegan potluck and that'd be fine.

(That said, Paul McLoughlin is in the article, and I'm a huge fan of both Paul and his partner. We took gay self-defense together back in the day, and I plotzed a little when I saw him in the NYT piece.)