Monday, February 07, 2011

Advanced Methods Digital Text Project -- The Hidden Speech

This is a digital text I created as an assignment for my Advanced Methods class.

In the play Julius Caesar, what might have happened if a woman could have followed Brutus and Antony's speeches at Caesar's funeral? Here's a speech from a concerned female citizen, reacting to the rhetoric of Rome's strong, powerful men...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

my bucket list

don't worry, i'm not dying. (at least as far as i know.)* not that you would have begun to worry, necessarily. but i'm not. dying, that is. or worrying about it. much.

anyway, i am a huge proponent of new terms entering the general discourse and also of those terms taking a new shape not identical to their original meaning. it is my hope that we can have bucket lists** for the approach of all sorts of era-ending markers, whether big or small.

you can have bucket lists for moves (as you may remember, i had a "prague bucket list") or starting school, before you get married, before the end of the year, before you have a root canal, before you turn 30, 40, etc. maybe you have a sex bucket list that you'd like to complete before you dump your boyfriend/girlfriend. the possibilities are endless.

i have a bucket list. i don't know what to name it - maybe it's a 2009 bucket list. the "oughts" decade*** bucket list. but, who knows. maybe you don't need an end date? but then what distinguishes a bucket list from a to-do list?

i think there are a few stipulations, such as:
1. must be something that can be completed by a certain time.
so, i can put "write a book" on a bucket list but not "write for at least 30 minutes every day"
2. i had a 2 but forgot it.

anyway, here goes. in no order.

-visit friends in san diego, new orleans, wisconsin, DC, and chicago.
-finish infinite jest
-have something published
-find a suitable bookcase for my room that will hold all my books instead of most of them
-make a prague scrapbook
-see 'where the wild things are,' 'mysteries of pittsburgh,' and 'the road'
-have a pierogi party
-have a quiz night
-go to Bar 11 on the South Side
-write a letter to one of my former students in Prague
-find some unique but not expensive decor for my room
-remember to buy a good knife and some measuring spoons for the kitchen
-go out to a nice**** dinner with a loved one
-get tickets for a Pens game
-think of some creative presents for friends for christmas
-think of a good halloween costume

obviously, to be continued.

what's on your bucket list?

*if you are one of those jagoffs who, anytime death is brought up in conversation, says "well, we're all dying if you think about it," i advise you to stop. you sound like a pretentious douche bag.

**this is tricky, as the element of death is inherent in the term, the word "bucket" coming from "kick the bucket," and the movie "the bucket list" was about two men dying. work with me, though.

***i hope this decade turns out to be one of my lifetime bests so in the future i an wax nostalgic about the "oughts" as i'm sure we will all refer to them. i'm so happy to have lived through the turn of a century.

****nice is relative. i have been wanting to go to Nakama (a hibachi/sushi place) for a while. this is a good example of what i consider nice - not outrageously expensive but probably not somewhere you'd go every week.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

unwritten laws of bathroom etiquette

this is my clarion call for a new unwritten social law. i think forced small talk in the ladies' bathroom should be abolished.

i think that men have this rule. i mean, it's been a while since i've been in a men's room, but isn't it like NOT COOL, if you are a dude, to talk to another dude while both aforementioned dudes are at the urinal? i mean, generally you keep the fraternization to a minimum when you have your dick in your hand, right?

i guess what i want to know is - does this golden rule continue to the hand washing phase of the bathroom experience?

(let's assume for the sake of argument that everyone washes their hands after they use the bathroom. we have a "mandatory" hand washing policy in our office, and by that i mean a sign that says "employees MUST wash hands before returning to work" even though we work in a law office, not McDonalds. i mean, not that i wasn't going to wash my hands anyway.....)

well since ladies don't have that problem because we sit down in single-serve stalls every time, there's the question of what to do when you exit the stall and run into someone washing their hands or primping themselves in front of the mirror? is it okay to pretend they aren't there? because that's what i do.

but it sorta feels like there should be some sort of communication. like, should i greet you? do you need greeted upon entering the bathroom? and like, i just saw you five minutes ago in the hallway and i greeted you then too, so why do i have to do it every time i see you?

"i've mastered communication in this office," my coworker randy said. "i say 'hi, how are you?' and by the time they say 'good,' i'm gone."

and like, say you say hi to someone in the foyer or lobby of the bathroom, the sink area, whatever you want to call it. and you start having a small-talky conversation, but what do you talk about? you obviously don't discuss anything that's going on in the immediate present. and then what? how do you make the transition to the "bathroom act" if you will? do you just stop talking, or do you continue the conversation while you are both in your respective stalls? can you talk to a coworker while you're pooping?

"lousy weather we're having. yeah i finally turned on the heat... well i've gotta get to it, do you want to keep this going or break it up here? meet you at the soap dispenser..."

i think next to the hand washing sign should be a "no small talk" sign. just make everyone's lives simpler.

Monday, July 20, 2009

dear Tivo, please die

I have problems with the way people watch TV these days.

I've said before that i don't believe in Tivo. I think it robs viewers of the communal aspect of watching TV on a schedule.

This was an easy perspective to have because up until now, I've never had a Tivo, so i didn't have to worry about it. Ii never had a chance to utilize or even enjoy its many features.

But the other night, my mom's boyfriend came in and said, "American Gladiators is on at midnight."

It was 12:43.

"It's okay, I'll get you the Season Pass," which, if you are not familiar, forces Tivo to record every airing of a particular show for the rest of eternity or until I shut it off, whichever comes first.

So last night we discovered not one, not two but THREE (American Gladiators is on three times a day!!!!) episodes waiting in the "queue" (another aspect of Tivo I don't support - British English).

We sat down to enjoy what was a "tournament of champions" episode, and who was playing but my favorite-ever gladiator, Rico Constatino. my friend Mark and I have an inside joke about Rico and I wanted to utilize another modern invention, my cell phone, to text him and tell him our boy was playing.

"You can't do that. this is pre-recorded, don't forget," Dale informed me.

So there you go. I wanted to be able to share this experience with someone, and I couldn't, because they were not at the same television console as I. Bullshit.

Another thing that bugs me, which didn't exist before I left for prague, is the prevalence of online venues for viewing TV shows. Why even bother sitting down to watch TV every night? You can go on, or, or whatever and find last night's episode.

For example, everyday I have been sitting down around 4pm to watch the Tonight Show from the previous evening. what was I doing last night at 11:35? Nothing. Actually, probably watching old episodes of the Office, or maybe playoff hockey games from this season.

The Pens won the 2008 Winter Classic, so that's cool.

Anyway, there seems to be no reason for TV to even have a regular schedule anymore. can't we go back to the days when we all gathered round the TV and shared some quality time?

OK, back to Conan.

Friday, July 17, 2009

America v. America

Now that I've returned to the land/home of the free/brave, and because i don't currently have a job per se so i have a lot of free time on my hands, i've been considering what I'm returning to. Is the America of July 2009 better, worse or more or less the same as the America of August 2007? Have I upgraded or downgraded? Let's consider the facts.

Economy: I did some reading up on comparing the financial climate now to two years ago, and basically it was shitty then and it's shittier now. Also, two years ago i had a job and currently I'm unemployed.

verdict: DOWNGRADE.

Government: I don't care who you voted for in last years election, I think we can all breathe a sigh of relief now that GWB is out of office.

verdict: UPGRADE.

Late Night Television: Conan on an hour earlier? Means I don't have to feel like I'm getting old because I can't stay up to watch Late Night. also, Andy is back! Sadly, after watching some of the shows, i'm wondering if Conan has lost his edge. I guess we'll need more time to give him a fair review, but some of the jokes are pretty terrible. And Jimmy Fallon's worst career move ever was leaving SNL. quit wasting my time.

verdict: EVEN MONEY.

Celebrity Deaths: of course there's MJ. we'll be bereft of not only a musical genius, but also of the endless stream of jokes at his expense. also, i'm still not 100% convinced that Alan Alda is alive.

verdict: DOWNGRADE.

Beer: Upon returning to the cradle of socialization, Oakland, I learned that most of the establishments that used to offer $1 beers have upped their asking price to $1.50. Gone are the days of a night out for less than $10. And legislators have done nothing to remedy the archaic alcohol laws in this state: I still can't walk down to the 7-11 to get a beer, and I can't walk down the street with an open container. how in the world am i supposed to be drunk all the time?

verdict: DOWNGRADE.

Personal Effects: Two years ago when I moved away, I packed up most of my clothes and books to be stored in my mom's attic. At the time I figured I'd probably never touch most of those things again, that they would stay up there for twenty or thirty years and then my kids would find them and go "you used to wear THAT?" and we'd all have a good laugh and then i'd say something weird and crazy and pee my pants because by then hopefully i'll be senile. BUT, after unpacking all said belongings, i realized it's things i forgot i owned by I'm so glad I do! I found my Kordell Stewart jersey circa 1996, some sweet pajama pants, red rain boots and enough fleece blankets to build a badass living-room fort. It's like Christmas for free.

verdict: UPGRADE.

Mom and technology: Two years ago, my mom was essentially living in the year 1993. She had no idea about the internet, very little information about computers, had just got her first cell phone and didn't even have a debit card.

Tonight, however, I realized that she has learned how to text message. I'm proud of her but frankly it's a little bit of a pain in the ass; she texted me three times in a span of like 20 minutes tonight while she was at work asking about when I am free to get my hair cut.

verdict: DOWNGRADE.

Shaq: In August 2007, Shaq was gearing up for another season with the Miami Heat. In the previous season he had reached the milestone of 25,000 career points, but saw the Heat swept by the Bulls in the playoffs.

Now, however, in the summer of 2009, things are looking up. Even though he's super old (like 59), you know he and Lebron are going to crush peoples souls in Cleveland. Also, this year Shaq, like the rest of the world, discovered Twitter, letting not a day go by without gems such as "Oh lance armstrong i challenge you to a time trial anytime anywhere, i dnt smell fear do i, smmmm smmm dats the sniffn sound."

verdict: UPGRADE.


After using my calculator machine to add up all the variables and hypothesizing with my very scientific method of evaluation, it looks like it's about even. America today is just as wonderful, or shitty, as it was two years ago. But if there's one thing we all should have learned from the Wizard of Oz, there's no place like home. I'd take a comparably shitty America over a normal or even above-average Europe.

Anyway... I'm glad to be back.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

girl talk playing tonight at the smash club

girl talk is coming back to pittsburgh on July 31, and thanks to my favorite pittsburgh boy coming up with a very thoughtful birthday gift, i'm gonna be there. i am brimming with the proverbial excitement, as the show i attended of his back in the summer of '07 was one of my favorite concert-going experiences ever.

girl talk has a special place in my heart for many reasons, most importantly because he is from pittsburgh. i did some cursory google-riffic research on him and he also seems like good people (though i would expect nothing less from a pittsburgher.) Greg Gillis was a biomedical engineering student turned researcher who did music as a weekend gig, never expecting it to take off the way it did.

he's a support of ALL music and has the utmost respect for the artists whose work he reinterprets. and hell, he bought Taco Bell for everyone at his May , 2008 show at Mr. Small's. what more could you want from a person, let alone a concert-going experience?

i also know a little bit better now how difficult it is to do what he does. thought it seems on the surface like he's merely taking other people's hard work and mashing it up, it's really a pretty intense creative process and technically very difficult.

i made friends with a guy in Prague who DJed the occasional set at a bar we used to frequent called Blind Eye. he did other shows around Prague but I only ever saw him at the BE. he gave my roommate and i once a rough tutorial on the program and equipment he uses to DJ, and it is hella complicated.

mash ups might be easy to do, but they seem insanely difficult to do well, and nearly impossible to do like Girl Talk does them.

and not only is he a talented artist, he's a unique performer. as he professes, it's not very interesting to watch a guy on stage clicking a mouse. since that's all he needs to do to produce the music for each show, he adds to it by going nuts onstage. he jumps in the crowd, brings the crowd onstage, strips down to his underwear...

the show i attended two summers ago was unreal. i didn't know what to expect, and as soon as the first notes boomed from the amps, the entire crowd broke out into the craziest, most perfect dance party ever. and it never lost energy.

the show this summer is at the Amphitheater at Station Square, which is a drastically different venue than Mr. Smalls; must less intimate, because of both size and the fact that it's outdoors. I'm not sure how Girl Talk's show will translate to an outside venue as I've never seen him at a festival.

the show is on July 31, and i believe the opening acts are "friends" including Wiz Khalifa and Don Caballero. I think the tickets are like $20 which, trust me, is totally worth it. see you there!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

there are a million reasons to go and only one reason to stay

it's that time of year again in prague: leaving time. spring and early summer is usually when people choose to make their exit (surprisingly, not winter), and this year i can't exclude myself from that bunch.

it's one thing to say goodbye to people you've are close with, but you're not sure you'll ever see again. promises of e-mails and phone calls and visits create sweet euphony with goodbyes, but who's to say which of those will be kept. but i'm prepared for that. you do your best, but one thing i've learned as i grow older is that people you expect never to see again reappear in your life in unexpected ways.

it's saying goodbye to the people whose relationship you're unsure about that sucks the most. a friend you've grown apart from, one with which the gap seems impossible to bridge. i'll miss yous will be exchanged, but will they be empty? will they really miss you or is it just something that sounds nice, when really they'll be almost glad to see you gone?

something i've learned a lot about this year is how difficult it is to repair unhealthy relationships. i'm not sure it can be done. it's unfortunate, because the more i see people come and go, the more i believe that when time is so short, differences should be put aside. in three weeks i may never see you again - can't we just enjoy the time we have?

i don't think there's anything more painful than a relationship that seems unfixable, no matter how much you want it to be back to what it was. and this is an impossible perspective from which to look at it. time and distance fix those problems; there's no forcing it. but faced with never seeing a person again, time and distance don't seem worth their salt. i want a band aid for a bullet wound, and i want it now.

the worst thing to face is that maybe the other person doesn't see in your friendship what they once saw, that they don't want to do any fixing. which makes that goodbye the worst kind.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

a bittersweet Stanley Cup championship

i've never wanted to go home more than on Saturday morning, about 4:30 Prague time, when Marc Andre Fleury made a miraculous save in the waning seconds of the third period and the Pens won the Stanley Cup.

i watched it from an internet feed of dubious legality in the living room of my friend's apartment. it was me, the light of the computer screen, and my friend Liz who was drifting in and out of a drunken sleep after a night of partying and dancing at Akropolis.

"Liz! Stay up! There's only two minutes left!"

"Yeah, okay, I'm up, I'm up," she said, as she closed her eyes again and left me alone to witness what Pittsburghers have been dreaming about since the early 90s.

In the 2 years I've spent in Prague, I've missed the Pens appear in two Stanley Cup finals and win one, the Steelers win a Superbowl, and the Pitt Panthers nearly make it to the Final Four. last year i spent $1000 to fly home to watch the last three games of the Stanley Cup, only to watch the series go to the seemingly unstoppable Wings, convinced that if there were some way the Pens could manage to win there was no way in hell i could have rationalized missing it.

but they lost. it was still worth it, but in the months following, as the Steelers came closer to their Superbowl victory, I began formulating a little superstition: when i'm away from Pittsburgh, my teams seem to perform much better.

so this year, as much as I wanted to pack up a month early and head home in June instead of July so I could catch what I knew would be an amazing Stanley Cup series, I couldn't do it. i'm the jinx. if i went home, they'd lose.

so i watched from the computer with only half-asleep Liz to celebrate with as Sid lifted the cup. and afterwards i called friends back home, and listened as they celebrated in their living room, then listened as they swarmed the streets, yelling and screaming and running around and high-fiving perfect strangers who, for one night, they had something in common with.

i'm not married, i don't have children, haven't made any huge accomplishments in any career or won any awards. call me irrational (though i have a feeling if you're also from pittsburgh, you won't), but this was the most important day of my life. and i have a feeling it was one of the most important days for the rest of the people from my hometown, too.

and to not be there to share it with them, that broke my heart a little. the feeling of pride that can't really be expressed by words is cut down to 1/100th of what it would have felt like had i been in pittsburgh.

i may sound overly dramatic or insane, but this win would have been so much better had i been able to celebrate it with people who can totally understand.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

and this 'book you cannot change

the more i think about it, i'm totally surprised that Obama was elected President this fall. you know why? because people HATE change.

but you say, no, Jen, you are totally wrong! we LOVE change! change is wonderful and exciting, especially in election years in democratic societies!

the same people who will someday tell their children and grandchildren about how they were part of an historic election that ushered in a new era of democracy*, who trudged to their local firehall or elementary school multi-purpose room on the first tuesday after the first monday in november 2008 and put their dirty fingers all over the smudged LCD screens of their states' shiny new electronic voting machines**, will say "we wanted change! and it was change that we got!"

they don't even realize they were totally lying.

how do i know?

all these people choose to spend their energy complaining about the facebook.***

a few weeks ago the facebook layout changed. again. it happens every six months or so, and it is always just radical enough to make people go UP. IN. ARMS. one morning you wake up, your wall is a little different, maybe the buttons for certain applications are in a different place, whatever, no big deal, but EVERYONE'S status is now "OH MY GOD I HATE THE NEW FACEBOOK, THIS IS TERRIBLE, MY WEEK IS RUINED, I THINK I'M GOING TO HANG MYSELF NOW :-(" or "UGH BRING BACK THE OLD FACEBOOK MARK ZUCKERBERG YOU DOUCHE BAG, I'M REALLY CONFUSED AND I CAN'T FIND THE BUTTON FOR SCRABULOUS!"

and then some genius with even more free time on his or her hands will create a group entitled "GO BACK TO THE OLD FACEBOOK, MARK ZUCKERBERG, YOU DOUCHE BAG, OR ELSE WE'LL ALL QUIT!"

here's the thing. who fucking cares? is it really going to inconvenience your life that much to click around and figure out where things are now? since most people are on the facebook about 8 hours a day anyway**** i bet you can have it down by lunch.

mark zuckerberg should tell everyone to shove it.

the submoral of the story is, if it bothers you that much, you should quit. but no one ever quits facebook.

the main moral of the story is, people hate change! if a new HTML script configured by some recent college grad in the Bay Area can ruin your day, how would you react to a change in SOCIETY***** that would actually affect your normal, day to day life in a meaningful way?

just make sure, future you, when you are proudly telling your children about how you wanted change so much that you voted for a Democrat, that you also explain how this crazy thing called the Facebook, on this old dinosaur called a computer, would ruin your week twice a year.

it's only fair.

*i suppose this remains to be seen, but bear with me for the sake of argument.
**i miss pulling levers
***i hate change so much i refuse to acknowledge mark zuckerberg's phase out of the definite article in his company's name
****you know you are, don't lie
*****i'm reserving judgment for now but we're operating on the assumption that this would happen

Saturday, January 03, 2009

liveblog: atlanta international airport

11:31. i arrived in Atlanta about an hour ago; i still have just a shade under 7 hours until my connecting flight leaves for Prague. i rode the cool little light rail train to Concourse E and situated myself at a Wi Fi Hot Spot in the food court. Atlanta is totally aware that it's 2009 and the internet should be ubiquitous and free. Awesome.

There are so many delicious food options around, I don't know what to choose for My Last Meal (in America). Arby's v. Qdoba? My brain isn't equipped to handle such challenges.

11:33. it is Hot As Fuck in this airport. I want to take my pants off. The man sitting opposite me is housing a tasty-looking quesadilla. One point for Qdoba.

11:35. Just realized my overheatedness may be due to the tall, thick socks I am wearing.

11:35:30. There is a badass player piano in this food court.

11:37. How early is too early to have a beer? I think general opinion would say noon. I say, as early as you are awake. JFK International Airport told me at 6:30 am, Friday December 19th that "the bar doesn't open until 8 am." Embarassing.

11:49. Just started thinking about how awesome it will be to have my NES in my apartment in Prague. No matter decade or location, having a Nintendo will always make you cool.

12:01. Some people are having beers across the way. I may make a move.

12:08. I am very bored. I am running out of people to stalk on the facebook.

12:10. There are two food court employees speaking to each other. One is on the phone, and the other is dictating a phone number for the person on the phone to relay to the person on the other end. Repeatedly. This gentleman has literally recited this same phone number 10 times at least. And he's also saying "fo" for the number four. I thought this only happened in movies.

12:21. Lunch break. I've decided on Qdoba. Chicken queso burrito, here I come. See you in a few.

12:52. If they don't have burritos in heaven, I'm not going.

12:53. The phone numbers gentleman commented on my "old school Nintendo. I think we're buds now.

1:25. Time is moving very slowly. There are tons of pilots wandering around this food court: wheeling their little suitcases, eating tasty food court foods and removing and replacing their pilot hats and jackets. This makes me nervous. I don't think the pilots should be mingling with the common folk. They should be segregated so they can focus on flying the airplanes.

1:42. Two people across from me are talking on walkie talkie phones. Presumably not to each other but I wouldn't put it past them. I don't get it. Can't you just call the person? Anyway, walkie talkies are cool until you're 12, and after that they're really fucking annoying.

2:10. Most pilots' hats look like they are three or four sizes too big for their heads.

2:22. The My Morning Jacket song I was enjoying just stopped very abruptly and prematurely. The next song was "In the Ayer" by Flo Rida. Scared the shit out of me. I nearly fell off my cha-yer.

2:42. More pilots. Pilots everywhere. One has Ohio sports team stickers all over his little pilot suitcase. Ohio is cool because, much like you can tell how far a star is from the earth by taking two measurements, six months apart, you can tell what part of Ohio someone is from by knowing at least two of the sports teams they support. The Bengals and Ohio University? Clearly south. Ohio State and the Browns? Columbus and North. I'm not sure how Columbus splits - who goes for the Bengals and who goes for the Browns? Ohio State and the Steelers - though rare - can signal Youngstown.

2:47. In the song "Panama," it really sounds like David Lee Roth is saying "Animal."

3:05. A while ago I switched the language setting on my facebook to "Pirate," and now I have no idea what is going on. It took me like three weeks to realize "betrothed" meant engaged. I'm tempted to change it back, but I like how it records time with shots of rum.

3:51. I forgot I was doing this for a few minutes. I realized that everyone I know is getting engaged or is already married. WTF? I mean, to each his own, but when did this happen? I feel like we just finished high school ten minutes ago.

4:14. Just saw someone with a killer-looking taco salad. Maybe I made the wrong choice.

4:25. I'm so tired. I just want to get on the plane so I can pass out.

4:40. No one is online for chatting purposes. I wish this internet connection would allow me to use G mail.

4:43. An old lady just bent down and picked up a penny I dropped earlier that landed heads down. Sucker.

5:07. I'm going to pack it in soon. Here's what I've learned about Atlanta in my eight or so hours here. People here have way cooler haircuts. There are lots of members of the armed forces skulking around, and pilots. Way more Spanish speakers than your average Pennsylvania town. The food courts are far classier than most airports. Owning a Nintendo can help if your social skills struggle. Like any honest American town, there's a TGI Fridays. Smoothies are gross. And free internet is freedom.

Peace be with yinz.